Contact: Center for National Renaissance, Telugu Desam Party, Save Indian Democracy (US)
Ph: 981-015-6791 (India), 986-602-1393 (India), 732-368-0122 (US)
Conf Details: http://saveindiandemocracy.
New Delhi (Jan 16, 2010): Multiple events are being planned in India by Center for National Renaissance, Political parties and other activists with well known International and National experts on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) to address the EVM related issues in India vis-a-vis similar international developments related to the EVMs.
What is EVM and what are the issues related to EVMs? EVMs are electronic voting machines that are used in India for more than two decades by Election Commission of India (ECI) during the elections and India went full with EVM in most recent two elections (2004 and 2009). Many activists have been raising concerns about EVM as far back as 2001 but their increased usage has seen spate of PILs etc from different political parties, activists as well as demonstrations of tamper-ability on EVMs build based on published specifications. The concerns are not just reliability of EVMs but serious allegations of tampering that altered elections outcomes.
However, ECI informs us that Indian EVMs are special and somehow different from International EVMs and that concerns about Indian EVM's are misplaced. But activists, technologists contest that position. These conferences will throw light how Indian EVMs lack the many safeguards that international EVMs have and they can be easily hacked (perhaps much more easily) than many Internationally used EVMs and if corrective actions are not taken, it will have serious implications to the democracy of the country.
What is at core is the issue of transparency, as German Supreme Court has enumerated, the ability of a common voter understand the process from the time vote is cast to the counting of that vote to the candidate specified by the voter. When that transparency is lost, the elections are greatly beholden to experts and election officials and leaves field open for fraud, potentially in a very large scale.
The planned activities are geared to bring an open discussion on these issues with international and national experts and help protect Indian Democracy.
Details of international experts:
1) Rop Gonggrijp, Netherlands Computer hacker, successful Entrepreneur who is instrumental in banning of EVMs in Netherlands due to security reasons, in spite of huge investments made by Netherlands in EVMs
Dr. Till Jaeger, Germany Attorney who argued the landmark German Supreme Court Judgment that effectively banned EVMs in German Elections
Dr. Alex Halderman, USA Computer Science Professor, University of Michigan, noted expert of Electronic Voting Security who demonstrated first voting machine virus, lead team of Scientists from Princeton and Berkeley for "Top to Bottom" review of California EVMs.
Among multiple events planned are (Tentative list):
2) Feb 13th: 9AM - 5 PM, Chennai Conference, Savera Hotel, Chennai
After two government-appointed committees could do nothing but agree with the organization's point of view, voting computers were abolished and the country is now once-again voting using hand-counted paper ballots. The municipal election officials will probably never like the paper ballots as much as they liked the machines, but the recent elections for European Parliament passed without incident.
Mr. Gonggrijp also co-authored the CCC technical report on voting computers as requested by the German contitutional court and he is a key figure in the growing international movement for election transparency and verifiability.
2001. He advises large and medium-sized IT businesses as well as government
authorities and software developers on matters involving contracts,
licensing and online use. Till Jaeger also covers conventional areas of
copyright law and entertainment law.
One particular focus of Till Jaeger’s work is on the legal issues created by
open source software. He is co-founder of the Institute for Legal Aspects of
Free & Open Source Software (ifrOSS), contributing to its work with academic
publications, lectures and seminars in the fields of software law and
Till Jaeger represented the physicist and software-engineer Dr. Ulrich
Wiesner at the German Constitutional Court in the proceedings regarding
complaints requesting the scrutiny of the elections to the 16th German
Bundestag. This lawsuit ended successful with the decision that the German
Federal Voting Machine Ordinance is unconstitutional for lack of
transparency and violation of the principle of democracy.
Till Jaeger graduated in law from the University of Mainz and has also
studied in Dijon, France. He started his legal clerkship in Brandenburg in
1996. After that, he was given a DFG scholarship to attend a post-graduate
course on EU law and the protection of personal rights in Munich. In
1999-2000 he wrote his Ph.D. thesis on copyright law at the Max Planck
Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition & Tax Law Munich."
Prof. Dill's Ph.D. thesis, "Trace Theory for Automatic Hierarchical Verification of Speed Independent Circuits" was named as a Distinguished Dissertation by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and published as such by M.I.T. Press in 1988. He was the recipient of an Presidential Young Investigator award from the National Science Foundation in 1988, and a Young Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research in 1991.
He has received Best Paper awards at International Conference on Computer Design in 1991 and the Design Automation Conference in 1993 and 1998. He was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2001 for his contributions to verification of circuits and systems, and a Fellow of the ACM in 2005 for contributions to system verification and for leadership in the development of verifiable voting systems. In 2008, he received the first "Computer-Aided Verification" award, with Rajeev Alur, for fundamental contributions to the theory of real-time systems verification.
Professor Halderman earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Princeton University with a dissertation focused on studying computer security failures in order to strengthen future designs. Besides electronic voting, his research interests include Internet security, data privacy, digital rights management, and cybercrime. He was a founding member of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, where he continues to hold an appointment as a visiting research collaborator.