Elon Musk sparks fresh debate on EVMs

Thursday, 20 Jun, 2024
The Indian Election Commission rebuked Musk’s claims, saying EVMs were completely safe. (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)

New Delhi: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has sparked a fiery debate over electronic voting machines (EVMs) as the tech billionaire claimed these machines carry a risk of getting hacked by humans or artificial intelligence (AI).

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi labeled EVMs as the ‘black box’, which he said nobody is allowed to scrutinize. “Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process,” Gandhi said, referring to the row over alleged EVM tampering in Mumbai North West seat in Maharashtra during the Lok Sabha elections, a claim refuted by the Election Commission (EC).

Meanwhile, former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said Musk’s views may apply to the US, where internet-connected voting machines are used but in India, EVMs are secured. Chandrasekhar responded to Musk’s remark, saying they were a “sweeping generalization” and offered the billionaire a “tutorial” on how the EVMs work.

Musk had reacted to Puerto Rico’s primary elections which allegedly experienced voting irregularities, saying “Anything can be hacked". Chandrasekhar rejected Musk’s statement, saying that Indian EVMs are custom-designed, secure, and isolated from any network or media. The EC categorically said that the EVMs are completely safe.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP and former Union Minister, Milind Deora, said Silicon Valley's tech billionaires should not meddle in India's democracy. Deora's observations on the matter came after opposition parties including Congress, Samajwadi Party, and Shiv Sena UBT raised concerns over the reliability of EVMs.

Former MLA and Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh's brother Lakshman Singh said the party's top leadership should not question the authenticity of EVMs as these were brought into the electoral system when Congress top brass Sonia Gandhi was the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).