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Friday, July 19, 2024

‘Risk of…’: Ahead of US Presidential polls, why Elon Musk is calling for scrapping of EVMs

Robert F. Kennedy Jr called for a return to paper ballots for the purpose of US elections

Space X and Tesla CEO Elon Musk Saturday called for scrapping the use of electronic voting machines (EVM) citing high risks of being hacked after Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an independent candidate contesting the United States presidential elections, flagged irregularities related to the EVMs used in Puerto Rico’s primary elections.

“We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” Musk wrote over X (formerly Twitter).

Earlier on Saturday, Kennedy Jr flagged concerns related to irregularities in EVMs at jurisdictions where there are no paper trails. “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?” he wrote on X.

He also called for a return to paper ballots for the purpose of elections. “US citizens need to know that every one of their votes were counted, and that their elections cannot be hacked. We need to return to paper ballots to avoid electronic interference with elections. My administration will require paper ballots and we will guarantee honest and fair elections,” Kennedy Jr emphasised.

Back in 2020, according to a report in Politico, former US President Donald Trump, in a draft executive order, had directed the defense secretary to seize voting machines. Trump allies had claimed that tabulators in some of the races were manipulated, pushing for machines to be eliminated entirely, and ballots to be counted by hand, Reuters reported.

While these claims were investigated and discarded, “claims of election fraud have sown widespread mistrust in elections, with a recent ABC/Ipsos poll finding only about 20% of the American public is very confident in the election system,” the news agency reported.

Jones, a retired computer science Professor, too, highlighted that there’s no evidence of hackers breaking into the EVMs, however, its possibility persists. “The point of using paper is to have a chain of evidence you can use to test the correctness of the count… The point of using scanners is to mechanize the count so you avoid as many clerical errors as possible,” the Reuters report quoted Jones.

According to election experts quoted by Reuters, “paper ballots help secure elections because they allow voters to verify how they voted and officials to cross-check results in post-election audits.”

While in 2016, about 22 per cent of registered voters were living in jurisdictions that used EVMs without paper trails, the number reduced to less than nine per cent, according to data from a US non-profit, Verified Voting.

Republicans and Democrats voted for the Puerto Rico’s primary in the month of April this year.

Current US President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will once again face each other in the 2024 presidential elections in what is being termed as a divisive and closely fought contest.

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