Botswana’s independent election commission is reportedly organising a hackathon on India-made Electronic Voting Machines after Indian political parties alleged that the devices could be tampered with. The development follows the Aam Aadmi Party’s opposition to the Indian polling monitor’s decision to not host a hackathon after it had announced that it would.
The African nation’s decision to organise the hackathon comes as the “Made In India” voting machines will be used in the country’s next election in 2019, ITWEBAfrica reported. “The independent Electoral Commission with a team of experts from Bharat Electronics Ltd of India will conduct a demonstration session on Electronic Voting Machines with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails on May 18,” a post, on what is believed to be the official Facebook account of the Botswana government, said.
“All those with the technical capability to hack EVMs are invited to come forward,” said Kabelo Hulela, public relations officer of the Botswanian commission.
While the Election Commission had said that all political parties would be given an opportunity to demonstrate that the EVMs used in the recent elections had been rigged, it declined the AAP’s request for a machine to prove that it could be hacked, NDTV reported. On Twitter, party chief Arvind Kejriwal had said, “Sad that EC has backed out of the hackathon.”
On Friday, India’s Election Commission had met representatives of 42 political parties to discuss the alleged vulnerabilities of EVMs. Reports had said the EC had also decided to hold a hackathon, during which computer experts would try to tamper with the devices.
The controversy over EVM manipulation began after the results of the Assembly elections in five states were declared on March 11. While the EC has maintained that the voting machines are tamper-proof, Opposition parties have made repeated calls for the polling monitor to switch back to using the paper ballot system. On April 11, as many as 16 Opposition parties had written to the commission alleging that the tampering of EVMs had created a “deep-seated trust deficit” on their reliability.
Corrections and clarifications: Bharat Electronics Limited on May 16 clarified that contrary to reports, it is not participating in the Botswana EVM hackathon.