Electronic Voting Machines are back in the news with several political parties raising fears of EVM tampering.

Mathematician, statistician and psephologist Rajeeva Karandikar for one does not believe that EVMs can be tampered with.

He goes as far as to say that EVMs are so safe that there is no need for the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).

The EVM design, the protocols related to the assignment of the machines to constituencies, the time it is done and the order of candidates on the EVM make the machines secure, he told BusinessLine . “It is impossible to know the number that a party candidate will end up with,” he said, stressing that the fact the EVMs are not networked but are independent machines is “an important aspect” of security.

Dr Karandikar was a member of the Bhat Committee, whose report, regarding the sample size of the VVPAT machines that should be verified with the actual voting, was submitted to the Supreme Court. If more than 2 per cent of the EVMs are defective, then a cross-check of the paper trails for 479 randomly-picked EVMs from across the country would be sufficient to detect the defective ones, said Karandikar, who is also the Director of the Chennai Mathematical Institute.

Instilling confidence

He said the VVPATs are an extra layer to instil confidence in voters, but the system can function well without the them.

A polling officer, who manned a polling booth in Chennai, said EVMs cannot be hijacked because the numbers of the machines are noted in the presence of the representatives of the parties.

After the machines reach the counting centre, the numbers are cross-verified.