Following her crushing defeat in Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, a belligerent Mayawati alleged that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were managed in favour of the BJP and called for a paper ballot election, a demand also backed by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
"The reports I got have raised the suspicion that the voting machines have been managed... It appears that voting machines have not registered votes cast in favour of other parties, or all the votes have been polled for the BJP. Even Muslim votes have gone to the BJP," she said.
Asked about Mayawati's allegation, Akhilesh Yadav said, "If a question has been raised on the EVMs, the government should probe. I will also look at it on my level."
The social media, on the other hand, is always full of jokes and rumours whenever an election is held in India that any button pressed on the EVMs ensures the vote goes to the BJP (or whoever is in power).
But the fact that EVMs can be easily tampered with is no rocket science.
HOW DO THE EVMs WORK?
Every EVM machine has a control unit, a ballot unit and a 5-metre cable. The machine can be operated with a 5 volt battery.
The way it works is that a voter is supposed to press a button against the name or photo of the candidate she wishes to vote for. The moment a button is pressed, the machine locks itself. It opens now only with a new ballot number. An EVM registers only five votes in a minute.
EVMs became popular because they were easier to carry and later count the votes on. They have been a part of India's election process for the last 15 years. While all this sounds alright, there is enough evidence to suggest EVMs are also unsafe and unreliable.
WHAT ARE THE THREATS?
1. EVMs can easily be hacked.
2. The complete profile of a voter can be accessed through EVMs.
3. EVMs can be used to manage the results of an election.
4. The EVMs can easily be tampered by an election official.
5. Even the election software of an EVM can be changed.
That EVMs can be hacked is a threat that has been given not only in India, but in many other countries, which is why a number of them have banned the voting machines.
1. Netherlands banned it for lack of transparency.
2. Ireland, after three years of research worth 51 million pounds, decided to junk EVMs.
3. Germany declared EVMs unconstitutional and banned it.
4. Italy also dropped e-voting since its results could be easily managed.
5. In the United States, California and many other states banned EVMs if they did not have a paper trail.
6. According to a CIA security expert, Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine stopped using EVMs after massive rigging was found.
7. England and France have never used EVMs.
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, along with a professor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had also once said that the EVMs could be easily tampered with and their results manipulated. Which is perhaps why Mayawati has questioned their use in Uttar Pradesh and other states this year. But will we ever know if they at all were?