Elon Musk sparks debate on EVM security, Rahul Gandhi questions transparency

Reacting to Musk’s comments, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the transparency of EVMs in India, branding them as a “black box” that escapes public scrutiny. Gandhi underscored, “EVMs in India are a ‘black box,’ and nobody is allowed to scrutinise them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process.”

| Updated: 16 June, 2024 7:31 pm IST
Elon Musk sparks debate on EVM security, Rahul Gandhi questions transparency

NEW DELHI: Tech mogul Elon Musk’s recent tweet advocating for the replacement of electronic voting machines (EVMs) with paper ballots has ignited a heated debate on the security and transparency of electoral processes globally.

Musk, highlighting concerns over potential hacking risks by humans or AI, stated, “We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked, while small, is still too high.”

Reacting to Musk’s comments, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the transparency of EVMs in India, branding them as a “black box” that escapes public scrutiny. Gandhi underscored, “EVMs in India are a ‘black box,’ and nobody is allowed to scrutinise them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process.”

 

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Gandhi’s remarks were bolstered by recent events in Mumbai North West, where allegations surfaced regarding the use of a mobile phone connected to an EVM during counting. Mangesh Pandilkar, a relative of the winning candidate Ravindra Waikar, allegedly used the phone to generate an OTP necessary to unlock the EVM at the NESCO Centre, as reported by Mid-Day.

“This is a fraud at the highest level,” stated Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, condemning the incident and calling for action from the Election Commission of India (ECI). Echoing this sentiment, Sena UBT leader Aditya Thackeray criticised the ECI’s reluctance to share CCTV footage of the counting center, questioning its transparency.

In response to Musk’s assertion, BJP leader and former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar defended the integrity of Indian EVMs, highlighting their custom design and robust security features. Chandrasekhar rebutted Musk’s concerns, asserting, “Indian EVMs are custom-designed, secure, and isolated from any network or media – No connectivity, no Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Internet.”

 

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The debate has expanded beyond Musk’s tweet, drawing reactions from various political leaders. Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav reiterated the call for returning to paper ballots, arguing, “If technology meant to solve problems becomes the cause of problems, its use should be reconsidered.”

Yadav emphasised the need for transparent electoral practices amid global apprehensions over EVM security.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has consistently maintained that Indian EVMs are tamper-proof and secure. In response to concerns raised, the ECI assured the public that tampering with EVMs is “impossible at any stage,” reaffirming its commitment to fair and transparent elections.

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