Hijacking Elections I.T.-Style

India is no stranger to stolen and fraudulent elections. The claim was that paper ballots were vulnerable to such fraud and theft, so the Election Commission announced use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). As it turns out, looks like the primary motivation for the switch to EVMs was the exact opposite. It was steal elections, and do it quietly.

Thanks to KM’s blogpost, I was alerted to the news that Hari Prasad, an engineer who worked to expose the vulnerabilities of the EVM has now been arrested. Despite Hari Prasad and his colleagues’ evidence of the vulnerabilities in the EVM, the Election Commission of India maintains that the EVMs are tamper proof. This despite evidence of rampant irregularities in the 2009 elections, and a growing concern about the security of EVMs worldwide.

J. Alex Halderman, Hari K. Prasad, Rop Gonggrijp

J. Alex Halderman, Hari K. Prasad, and Rop Gonggrijp

I am inclined to suspect that the Election Commission and the political parties are all in collusion to ensure that elections are rigged and done so quietly. Why else would an engineer be arrested for actually speaking the truth?

In fact, the EVMs are so poorly designed that the data isn’t even encrypted in the memory! Come on, even I know to design an EVM better than that! This means anyone can tap into the machine and read/write/alter the votes. Worse, you can actually attach a look-alike piece of hardware to the EVMs to alter the votes remotely through a mobile phone [For details here's the full technical paper]. This looks more like a feature than a bug to me. It looks like this was a deliberate decision to make it easier to sell the election results to the highest bidder.

Welcome to India, a country whose democracy has been bought and paid for. Anyone trying to rock that boat will not be tolerated.

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