India’s VoteGate?

“Results” available before voting complete in Lok Sabha 2009

2009 elections were held in 5 phases starting April 16th to May 13th. Counting is not supposed to start until all 5 phases complete.

Key Events

 April 2009 (before polling starts):
Dr Anupam Saraph, Prof Madhav Nalapat and others decide to track the elections and create a wiki for constituencies and candidates

 Constituency and candidate data
sourced from the ECI website
Candidate Wiki: http://government.wikia.com/wiki/Lok_sabha_Candidates Constituency Wiki: http://government.wikia.com/wiki/Lok_Sabha_Constituencies

 16

Key Events

April 2009: Election commission website allows download of candidate data as an excel spreadsheet

th

 Spreadsheet contains candidate
names, gender, address, party names, symbol, constituency information etc.

 Spreadsheet changes in subsequent
downloads as candidates are added in different constituencies

6

Key Events

May 2009 spreadsheet data changed! Elections are still 10 days to go (4th and 5th phases yet to complete)
‘coded’ candidate names (based on position on EVM) instead of candidate name, gender, address, party names, symbol, constituency information etc. and and ‘votes polled’ (number of votes candidate got in coded form)

th

 Spreadsheet downloaded on this day contains

 ‘Votes polled’ data in the spreadsheet changes
even as elections are on (it cannot be dummy data as ECI later said)

Sample Record

Before polls start no votes polled data
Field STATECODE STATENAME PCNO PCNAME PHASE CANDIDATESERIALNO NAME GENDER AGE CATEGORY PARTYSHORTNAME PARTYNAME SYMBOLDESC VOTESPOLLED ADDRESS DECODE(FINALISED,'YES' ,'FINALISED','') H.No. 4-72 (11-115),Utnoor Village,Utnoor Mandal Adilabad District (AP) FINALISED 16th April 2009 S01 Andhra Pradesh 1 Adilabad 1 1 ADE TUKARAM M 55 ST BJP Bharatiya Janata Party Lotus

During polls coded votes polled data
6th May 2009 S01 Andhra Pradesh 1 Adilabad 1 1 CANDIDATE_S01_1_1 M 55 ST BJP PartyName_569 Lotus 122042 H.No. 4-72 (11-115),Utnoor Village,Utnoor Mandal Adilabad District (AP) FINALISED

After polls no votes polled data (to avoid comparison)
16th May 2009 S01 Andhra Pradesh 1 Adilabad 1 1 ADE TUKARAM M 55 ST BJP Bharatiya Janata Party Lotus

H.No. 4-72 (11-115),Utnoor Village,Utnoor Mandal Adilabad District (AP) FINALISED

Data files accessed from: http://eci.nic.in/candidateinfo/frmcandidate.aspx Data files archived at: http://www.scribd.com/collections/2319591/Candidate-Info

Key Events

6

May 2009: NIC and Elections Commission alerted to the election “results” available before voting has completed on their website

th

 NIC responds in one hour confirming
the observation and alerting the ECI to the grave observation

 No response from the ECI

 16

May 2009: Elections are over and results declared contains candidate names, gender, address, party names, symbol, constituency information etc. just like 16th April 2009

th

Key Events

 Spreadsheet downloaded on this day

 There is no ‘votes polled’ data for any
candidate to avoid any comparison!!

 Harassment of activists including firing
from job, tap phones, cut off internet, agents following activists, including tapping the phones of their drivers

Key Events

6

May 2009 onwards for a few months: The media and political leaders informed about the happening amidst shock and disbelief

th

 EVM controversy broken out by some
parties in June

 Parties study data, seek to be informed
Media report: http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jul/160709-Election-Commission-LokSabha-election-S-Y-Quraishi-Pune-Municipal-Corporation.htm

Key Events

 25

May 2009: The spreadsheet is no longer accessible on the ECI website other urls

th

 Data of winning candidates declared on

Key Events

7

July 2009: The ECI asked again about the results on their website before voting

th

 ECI does not respond
Copy of letter to ECI posted on: http://government.wikia.com/wiki/Coded_data_on_ECI_website

Key Events

7

August 2009: Political parties lead representation to ECI along with technology experts

th

 ECI holds in-camera meeting but fails to
answer questions about results before voting

Copy of minutes of meeting mailed to ECI: http://government.wikia.com/wiki/Minutes_mailed_to_ECI

Media Coverage, Midday, July 16th
http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jul/160709-Election-Commission-Lok-Sabhaelection-S-Y-Quraishi-Pune-Municipal-Corporation.htm

Summary of Events

Date April 2009 10th April 2009

16th and 24th April 2009

6th, 7th, 11th and 15th May 2009 6th, 7th, 11th and 15th May 2009

16th, 19th, 20th and 22nd May 2009 23rd May 2009 25th May 2009 7th August 2009

Event Group decides to create wiki for candidates and constituencies No Data available; request made to NIC for data in excel format Excel file made available at http://eci.nic.in/candidateinfo/frmcandidate.as px Files downloaded in this period have candidate names, party names All files downloaded in this period have coded candidate names and votes polled data Votes Polled data in files downloaded is different for some candidates Candidate files downloaded in this period are no longer coded are similar to those before the 6th of May and have no votes polled data when it should have been there The ECI Site is down The Site is restored but the Candidate file is made inaccessible In-camera meeting at ECI, ECI fails to explain events

 What could have caused “results” to

Hypothesis

appear on the ECI website before voting?

 H1: ECI website was hacked  H2: Someone was experimenting with
dummy data in the database on the ECI servers

 H3: Someone uploaded desired
results on the ECI servers

Hypothesis

Possibilities

Implications

H1: ECI Website Hacked

ECI security seriously compromised

Questions  When was the last security audit done?  What forensic study was undertaken?  Is a new security regime in place?

Hypothesis

Possibilities

Implications

H2: ECI Website posted dummy data

ECI procedures seriously compromised

Questions  Why was it not removed after the NIC and ECI were intimated on the 6th May 2009?  Why is there no explanation from ECI to date?  Why was the dummy data coded?  Why did the votes polled data change?  Why does the field “DECODE(FINALISED,'Y ES','FINALISED','')” change over time?  Why was real data not uploaded on the 16th May 2009?

Hypothesis

Possibilities

Implications

H3: ECI website had real coded data

Free and fair elections did not happen, the 2009 Election was hijacked

Questions  Was the EVM read ahead of time into ECI Database?  Was the ECI Database written to EVMs?  How do the EVM’s transfer or receive data?  What audit of votes recorded by the EVM is possible?  What forensic analysis of the EVMs/servers has been done?

Forensics Needed

Possibilities

Firewall and Application/Webserver logs

Data  Changes in the CandidateAC file  IP addresses that downloaded the files  IP addresses that uploaded the files

Implications  Verify the CandidateAC files  Verify the access to these files from various locations

Webserver archives

 CandidateAC files  Programs with access to the CandidateAC files

 Demonstrate the versions of the CandidateAC files  List the ways this file could be viewed or modified

EVM Analysis

 For each booth the serial no, make and version of EVMs deployed and results read on them  Features of each version of EVM

 Explore correlation between EVM and surprise results  Establish known capability of EVM

Reforms Needed

 Reforms needed:  Receipts for voters  Third party audit of elections  Multiple EVM channels including
internet and mobile phones

Safeguarding Democracy: http://www.slideshare.net/AnupamSaraph/safeguarding-democracy Election Reforms: http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/15844.pdf

Category

Link

References

News

 http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jul/160709-Election-Commission-LokSabha-election-S-Y-Quraishi-Pune-Municipal-Corporation.htm

Data

http://saveindiandemocracy.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=770 (Download excel file here) http://saveindiandemocracy.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=769 (Download excel file here) http://www.scribd.com/collections/2319591/Candidate-Info

Wiki Links

           

Tracking the elections Questions about Indian democracy raised by the data on the ECI website Voting Reforms: Options in an imperfect world Copy of letter sent to the ECI requesting clarifications Researching the coded database Case for Election Reforms Review the 2009 Lok Sabha Election Process: Promises and Reality Results before Voting? EVM Issues Results before voting Requirements form the ECI Minutes of meeting with the ECI mailed to them

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