Politics

Musk’s remarks on EVM ignites heated debate in India

In response to billionaire tech tycoon, former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar has fought back, calling the remarks a "huge sweeping generalization" with no evidence

Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented on electronic voting machines (EVMs) on Sunday, June 16th, 2024, sparking fresh debate in India on their reliability. EVM ignites fresh concerns, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi flagging ‘serious concerns’ about transparency in the country’s electoral process.

“EVMs in India are a “black box,” and nobody is allowed to scrutinize them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability,” he wrote in a post while sharing a news clip about Shiv Sena Mumbai MP Ravindra Waikar’s relative allegedly using a mobile phone for sending OTP to ‘unlock’ EVM machine.

EVM Ignites Debate Over Election Integrity

In response to billionaire tech tycoon, former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar has fought back, calling the remarks a “huge sweeping generalization” with no evidence. Musk’s comments were a reaction to news that the Puerto Rican Election Commission was reconsidering its agreement with an electronic voting business headquartered in the United States due to irregularities found in the island territory’s voting process.

“This is a huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. Wrong. @elonmusk’s view may apply to US n other places – where they use regular compute platforms to build Internet connected Voting machines. But Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure and isolated from any network or media – No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet. ie there is no way in. Factory programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial Elon.” Chandrasekhar tweeted. The entrepreneur-turned-politician also offered to give a tutorial to the SpaceX boss demonstrating the robustness of EVMs designed in India.

EVM ignites
Image Source: Bharat Electronics Limited

“Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial Elon,” he said.

Remarkably, Musk was not discussing Indian politics; rather, he was responding to a post made by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in which the latter drew attention to many anomalies in the Puerto Rican primary elections and cited findings linking them to malfunctions in the computerized voting equipment, suggesting they should be eliminated due to the potential risk of being hacked by humans or AI, even if the risk is minimal.

A new issue about the results of the vote for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency also surfaced on Sunday. The Shiv Sena candidate for Eknath Shinde, Ravindra Waikar, had won the seat by a mere 48 votes. According to Mid-Day, Waikar’s cousin had gone into the counting station using a cell phone that was purportedly linked to an EVM.

The publication received a notice from the returning officer refuting the accusations contained in the report. Priyanka Chaturvedi, the head of Shiv Sena (UBT), however, said on X that the returning officer’s comments further “implicated” the poll office and raised more questions. Aaditya Thackeray, the head of Sena UBT, has accused the electoral commission of withholding CCTV video from the counting center.

Amid the raging controversy, BJP IT Cell in-charge Amit Malviya issued a challenge to the Tesla CEO and a put-down to Rahul Gandhi.

“Elon Musk or whoever else thinks they can hack the EVM should approach the Election Commission of India and take a shot at it. But why is Rahul Gandhi complaining about Indian democracy to Musk? What can Musk do? Or is crying before the world and demeaning India part of Congress’s DNA? We just had an election and people of India rejected this dynast for the third time in row. But he still does not get it,” tweeted Malviya.

However, Returning Officer Vandana Suryavanshi on Sunday (June 16) rubbished the claims and said, “It is a technically foolproof standalone device. There is no provision for wireless or wired communication with it.”

You might also be interested in – SC rejects pleas for 100% verification of EVMs and VVPAT

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