Rajeev Chandrasekhar offers to tutor Elon Musk on building ‘secure EVMs’ while Rahul Gandhi calls them ‘black box’

They were replying to Musk’s response to a US presidential candidate, who highlighted irregularities in Puerto Rican elections.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 16, 2024 | 2:02 PM Updated Jun 16, 2024 | 8:27 PM

Rajeev Chandrasekhar offers to tutor Elon Musk on building 'secure EVMs' while Rahul Gandhi calls them 'black box'.

Former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar inadvertently took the Opposition allegation of faulty Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in India to a global level.

On Sunday, 16 June, Chandrasekhar took to X to tutor its CEO Elon Musk on how EVMs “can be architected and built right”.

He was replying to Musk’s response to the US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Junior, who highlighted irregularities in the Puerto Rican elections. Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reiterated the Opposition’s claim that EVMs in India are a “black box”.

Also Read: Kapil Sibal urges SC to direct EC to preserve EVM logs for 2-3 years

The question of unsafe EVMs

Highlighting the Puerto Rican election, Kennedy Jr said on X that his administration would require paper ballots for fair elections.

“Puerto Rico’s primary elections just experienced hundreds of voting irregularities related to electronic voting machines, according to the Associated Press. Luckily, there was a paper trail so the problem was identified and vote tallies corrected. What happens in jurisdictions where there is no paper trail?” he questioned.

“US citizens need to know that every one of their votes were counted and that their elections cannot be hacked. We need to return to paper ballots to avoid electronic interference with elections. My administration will require paper ballots and we will guarantee honest and fair elections,” he said.

Seconding the statement, Musk advocated the need to eliminate electronic voting machines.

“We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” Musk said on X.

The contradicting responses from India

However, Chandrasekhar replied to it saying Musk was wrong in generalising that no one could build secure digital hardware.

“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,” he said on X.

“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,” he added.

“Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We wud be happy to run a tutorial Elon,” the former Union minister said.

Musk replied to the post, saying, “Anything can be hacked.”

In response to this, Chandrasekhar said, “Technically ur right – anything is possible E.g..wth quantum compute, i can decrypt any level of encryption, with lab level tech n plenty of resources, i can hack any digital hardware/system incldng flight controls of a glass cockpit of a jet etc etc.”

“But thats a different type of a conversation from EVMs being secure n reliable vis a vis paper voting. And we can agree to disagree,” he added.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said EVMs in India are a “black box” which nobody is allowed to scrutinise, and asserted that “serious concerns” are being raised about transparency in India’s electoral process.

“Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability,” Gandhi said and tagged a media report which claimed that a relative of Shiv Sena’s candidate, who won the polls from Mumbai’s northwest by 48 votes, had a phone that unlocks an EVM.

The former Congress president also tagged the post by Musk.

The Opposition parties have been raising concerns over EVMs for some time now and had demanded a 100 percent count of the VVPAT slips which was not allowed.

Meanwhile, responding to it, BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya said Musk or whoever else thinks they can hack the EVM should approach the Election Commission of India and take a shot at it. He also took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi after the Congress leader raised Musk’s comments to flag “concerns” about electoral process.

Malviya said, “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 a third time in row. But he still does not get it.”

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)

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