At least 70 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were stolen in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh between 2003 and 2013, a RTI activist has found in response to his query.
The reply received by Congress party member and activist Tehseen Poonawalla on Friday stated that during the 2003, 2008, and 2013 assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, a total of 15 EVMs were stolen, while Chhattisgarh reported "loss/ destruction" of 56 EVMs during looting by Maoists rebels during the 2003 and 2008 elections.
One EVM was reported missing by Gujarat in 2007. The loss of that EVM led to an enquiry by the state commission and lie-detector tests were performed on the persons responsible for the safety of the machine, the reply read.
All the information was provided by the respective state offices of the Election Commission.
Poonawalla said that RTI reply undoes the Election Commission of India's argument which says, he continued, that EVMs cannot be tampered because they are put under heavy security.
"Today with these RTIs, I have proved EVMs are regularly being stolen and with reverse engineering, the source code can be obtained and results obtained," Poonawalla said.
He said that the Election Commission of India is regularly "shifting goal posts" on the question of fragile mechanism of the EVMs. He also said that EC should place an EVM before Parliament and allow technical experts to check whether it can tampered with.
"The people who work at the election commission are not technically competent and are bureaucrats… we have approached the Supreme Court to return to the ballot paper, but it's going to be a long fight," he added.