Elections were held in 5 phases across India. The last phase of polling was completed on the 13th of May 2009. The counting of votes was to begin on the 16th of May 2009.
Prior to the election the Election Commission had ruled that the election will be held in 5 phases with each phase dealing with voting in geographically discrete locations. Furthermore, to avoid any potential effect of the voting pattern in a given phase over that in subsequent phase(s), Exit Polls were formally disallowed and no interim counting of votes would be conducted or permissible prior to the completion of polls in all phases. Thus by virtue of the decisions of the Election Commission the final counting of the votes was to be undertaken and completed on the 16th of May 2009. Consequently Election Commission had specifically given the impression that it had formally disallowed any preemptive counting of votes including sampling either through Exit Polls or by downloading EVM data.
The data on the final votes polled would be expected to be uploaded/made available on the http://eci.nic.in/candidateinfo/frmcandidate.aspx on the 16th of May 2009. The nature of these data would concern names of the candidates, individual party affiliation, name of the constituency, the voting phase, votes polled by each candidate. It is only a matter of serendipity that, in order to obtain the information on the names of candidates their constituencies and party affiliations that on May 6th 2009 Prof Madhav Nalapat and Dr. Anupam Saraph went to the site and must have been amazed to discover the results of the votes compiled for all five phases although the election/voting were yet to take place in phase iv and v. It thus appears that either this was mischief by some hacker or that some data was actually uploaded. The site was visited again on the 7th and 11th with the same result. In conclusion, contrary to the rules set up by the election commission, not only was the voting data for the first three phases available but surprisingly data for the two subsequent phases (before actual polling took place) appeared.
Could this have been a mistake? Some software mixup? Some sort of interference from interested parties? On the 11th they downloaded the data again to find that
- The same "votes polled" data was still available
- Barring a few candidates, the data was the same for most others
- The data on votes was available for 8023 candidates out of 8070 for 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies well before the completion of the election process
It will be interesting to note the actual voting dates for different phases and the names of the constituencies, candidates and parties, the information for which the original exercise was undertaken by Prof Madhav Nalapat and Dr. Anupam Saraph.
The extraordinary feature of this discovery concerns availability of data at a time when the events had yet to take place such as votes for elections and vote counts yet to be held prior to the date of their availability on the http://eci.nic.in/candidateinfo/frmcandidate.aspx website. To verify the validity of this information the concerned website was continuously monitored and enquiry made with the Election Commission about possible irregularity in the vote counting and revealing processes. Surprisingly however the "votes polled" data disappeared on the 15th and did not reappear as one would have expected on the 16th, or immediately thereafter, i.e., the date of formal declarations of the results by the Election Commission. Eventually ECI seems to have uploaded the final data on June 3rd 2009. It is at this point that the June 3rd data were compared to those appeared on May 6th, 7th and 11th May. This comparison clearly shows that the actual trends preempted for all phases were mostly the same. This raises a serious question as to how was it possible to predict/prempt the voting trends for phases i to iii for which the voting had been completed but neither exit polls nor immediate counting were allowed/implied/undertaken/completed. It is even more surprising that the voting trends for the phase iv and v for which the elections had yet not taken place preempted/published/allowed/implied/undertaken/completed were similar to those from the data published on June 3rd.
The sequence of these events preceded by the nature of rules and regulations set forth by the Election Commission as a priori for the conduct of the election process for Lok Sabha 2009, India, were not followed in practice and grossly violated in form of publication of voting data on the ECI website, completely contrary to the premise of sanctity presumably guaranteed by the Election Commission. Indeed it almost makes one feel that the final result of the election was electronically preplanned. Is this possible? With all the promises made on the fool-proofedness of the security of the poll data, its storage as well as retrieval process, would it have been possible to prematurely access, download and manipulate the data contents on the EVM's? It is clear that EVM's need to be manually/electronically accessed to retrieve the data but it does not appear impossible to transmit to modify existing data. Furthermore the actual process of downloading contents from EVM's involves a "control unit" that retrieves the information/data from the "ballot unit" and reads the stored votes for manual compilation. While it is possible to manipulate data during manual compilation, this seems to be fraught with presence of too many individual operators involved in the final counting process. In contrast, however, if the control unit has a program that reads of "votes polled" that were downloaded to it from an excel spreadsheet, not unlike those that were available in coded form between May 6th and 11th the number of votes for each candidate could be manipulated.
In conclusion there is a strong possibility/probability that the election process was/could have been rigged such that specific group of candidates/political parties were favored to garner majority votes irrespective of the actual votes cast by the electorate. This is not only possible in India but it is well known that a similar situation affected the vote counting process during the US Presidential Elections in 2004 in the State of Florida.
According to Brad who quotes this article by Atul A. the EVM's used in India can be readily rigged by a Computer Scientist. With so many ifs and buts, therefore, a time has come to undertake independent inquiries by the Supreme Court and CVC and two stay the results of the last election.
--Devlem 14:57, 8 June 2009 (UTC)