Research on Indian EVM Machine

Independent Research

The Election Commission of India has spoken of India‘s EVMs as “infallible” and “perfect”. Yet similar electronic voting machines used around the world have been shown to suffer from serious security problems. India‘s machines had never been subjected to credible independent Research

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Can the problems with EVMs be fixed?

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Security Analysis of India’s Electronic Voting Machines

Elections in India are conducted almost exclusively using electronic voting machines developed over the past two decades by a pair of government-owned companies. These devices, known in India as EVMs, have been praised for their simple design, ease of use, and reliability, but recently they have also been criticized because of widespread reports of election irregularities. Despite this criticism, many details of the machines’ design have never been publicly disclosed, and they have not been subjected to a rigorous, independent security evaluation. In this paper, we present a security analysis of a real Indian EVM obtained from an anonymous source. We describe the machine’s design and operation in detail, and we evaluate its security, in light of relevant election procedures. We conclude that in spite of the machine’s simplicity and minimal software trusted computing base, it is vulnerable to serious attacks that can alter election results and violate the secrecy of the ballot. We demonstrate two attacks, implemented using custom hardware, which could be carried out by dishonest election insiders or other criminals with only brief physical access to the machines. This case study contains important lessons for Indian elections and for electronic voting security more generally.

Can the problems with EVMs be fixed?

Not easily. The entire class of voting systems to which these EVMs belong has inherent problems that stem from a lack of transparency. They force voters to trust software and hardware without proper means of verification.

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