Tampered Machines, Tempered Masters

A group of scientists and technologists did a research and found out that contrary to the claims of Election Commission of India (of India’s EVMs being “perfect” and “infallible”), the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are easy to tamper with. Their technical paper (PDF link) details the process they have done to prove their point, with a real EVM. But rather than ordering a detailed inquiry and a fix to those EVMs, the Election Commission arrested Hari K Prasad, one of the researchers, to have stolen an EVM. The research website says “in 2009, the Election Commission of India publicly challenged Prasad to demonstrate that EVMs could be tampered with, only to withhold access to the EVMs at the last minute.

As per the research website, the device was given by an anonymous source which itself raises questions about the security of these machines. And what exactly should we say about an independent researcher being charged for stealing the machine while the more important questions he raised about the credibility of EVMs are muted? The technical paper (PDF link) also claims that Hari Prasad “was approached in October 2009 by representatives of a prominent regional party who offered to pay for his technical assistance fixing elections. They were promptly and sternly refused.