Musk vs BJP Over EVMs: Tesla Chief Responds To Ex-Union Min's 'Tutorial' Offer; INDIA Bloc Also Jumps In

After Elon Musk cited concerns about EVMs' potential vulnerabilities to hacking, saying that we should "eliminate" the voting system, former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar offered him a "tutorial" on the voting system.

X and PTI
L: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi | C: Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk | R: Former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar Photo: X and PTI

An advice against using electronic voting machines (EVMs) by Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk sparked an exchange of posts between him and former Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on microblogging platform X, formerly Twitter, after the latter gave a counter to the multi-billionaire.

It all started with Elon Musk's post where he cited concerns about EVMs' potential vulnerabilities to hacking, saying that we should "eliminate" the voting system. Musk's post got a reply from former Union minister Rajeev Chandresekhar, who offered a 'tutorial' on EVMs.

Musk's remark was a response to an X post by, Robert F Kennedy Jr, nephew of former US President John F Kennedy and an independent hopeful for the 2024 US Elections.

Robert F Kennedy Jr wrote" "Puerto Rico's primary elections just experienced hundreds of voting irregularities related to electronic voting machines, according to the Associated Press. Luckily, there was a paper trail so the problem was identified and vote tallies corrected. What happens in jurisdictions where there is no paper trail?"

Reposting this, Musk wrote: "We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high."

Concerns over EVMs have not just been raised in the United States, but also in India where Opposition parties have alleged EVM tampering several times.

Former Union Minister's Counter To Musk

Former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar countered Musk's statement terming it as a "huge sweeping generalisation" which holds no truth.

"This is a huge sweeping generalisation statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. Wrong," the former Minister of State for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said.

"No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet; there is no way in. Factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon," Chandrasekhar said further in his post.

Musk Replies To Chandresekhar

Chandresekhar's above-mentioned post got a reply from Elon Musk, who said "anything can be hacked".

This didn't end here. Chandrasekhar also replied again.

In his post, Chandresekhar told Musk, "Technically ur right - anything is possible E.g..wth quantum compute, i can decrypt any level of encryption, with lab level tech n plenty of resources, i can hack any digital hardware/system incldng flight controls of a glass cockpit of a jet etc etc."

"But thats a different type of a conversatn from EVMs being secure n reliable vis a vis paper voting. And we can agree to disagree," Chandrasekhar wrote.

Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav Jump In

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav - INDIA bloc allies - also later latched on to Elon Musk's post on EVMs. Rahul Gandhi said EVMs are "black box" in India which nobody is allowed to scrutinise, asserting that "serious concerns" are being raised about transparency in India's electoral process.

"Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability," Gandhi said and tagged a media report which claimed that a relative of Shiv Sena's candidate, who won the polls from Mumbai's north west by 48 votes, had a phone that unlocks an EVM.

"We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high," Musk had said in his post.

The opposition parties had demanded a 100 per cent count of the VVPAT slips which was not allowed.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, sharing Musk's post, said, "Technology is to remove problems, if they become a cause of problems, their use must be stopped."

"When risks of EVM tampering are being flagged in several elections across the world and well-known technology experts are flagging risks, the BJP must clear the air on why they are bent on using EVMs," he said, demanding that upcoming elections be conducted using ballot paper method.