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2009 Lok Sabha Data Questions

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Tracking the Elections 2009Edit

Elections were held in 5 phases across India. The last phase of polling was completed on the 13th of May 2009. The counting of votes was to begin on the 16th of May 2009.

The data of various candidates could be obtained from the Election Commission of India's website. In order to track the elections and upload candidate and constituency information onto this wiki, we accessed this website and regularly downloaded the CandidateAC file from there. This spreadsheet had various columns containing information of all candidates including their political affiliations, age, address etc. There was also a column for "votes polled" and some "coding" called “DECODE(FINALISED,'YES','FINALISED',)”.

By virtue of the Election Rules no votes polled data/exit poll was to be available before the 16th of May 2009, least of all on the Election Commission of India Website.

Unexpected Votes Data in Coded SpreadsheetEdit

The excel spreadsheets on candidate information for all India downloaded from the ECI website between the 6th and 15th of May had "coded" Candidate Names, Party Names and votes polled. Despite repeated queries the ECI has not clarified the meaning of this data. This has resulted in widespread speculation and raised serious questions about the the management and integrity of the democratic process.

Unclarified QuestionsEdit

The serious questions being asked include:

Votes Polled?Edit

  • What was the coded data in the "votes polled" column in the versions of the spreadsheet downloaded between the 6th and 11th of May?
  • Why were the spreadsheets between these dates "coded" all of a sudden?
  • If the polling was not even complete how could "votes polled" data be available for all but 47 of the 8071 candidate?
  • If EVM’s were secure with DEO/district collectors, and elections were not even held in many constituencies, how was the data for 8023 candidates or all but 47 of the 8071 candidates available to the ECI on files downloaded between these dates?

Dummy Data?Edit

What Tests?Edit

  • If the the data in these files was test/dummy data, what was it testing? Why was this test taking place during the polling period?
  • What were the tests, and what were the results of the tests?
  • If the data in these files is test/dummy data, why is real data not uploaded in this file to date, especially as it was removed on the 15th of May 2009?
  • What tests were these that required only some data to keep changing and others to remain unchanging?
  • Is there any way the ECI can distinguish test data from real data?

Incompetence or Intent?Edit

  • If the data on the ECI website resulted from pure error, why was it coded?
  • If the data resulted from incompetence, is the result data not up in the same file for the same reason?
  • If the data resulted from incompetence and these links are meaningful, why have the relevant links and the CandidateAC spreadsheet that contained the data been pulled off the website on July 15th?

Coding?Edit

  • What is the field “DECODE(FINALISED,'YES','FINALISED',)” in these files and why does it change over time?

Can you Confirm if Your Vote Counted?Edit

  • Is there any mechanism by which the voters can go back and ensure that their vote is still counted? Something similar to going back to the bank and checking that the money is still accounted for?
  • Besides a faith in the honesty of officials, integrity of the process and independence of the ECI, is there any other way to establish transparency and trust in an Election conducted by the ECI?
  • Is there any test, audit that can certify that votes polled are those polled by the people and not a Trojan Horse or a machine? Like a reverse Turing Test, a Democracy Test?
  • How can votes be certified by the ECI to be a true vote of the people of India?

Closed System?Edit

  • Is the source code of the entire electronic machinery "open-source"? Why not?
  • If Electronic Voting Machines have been banned across the countries for their inability to distinguish between human and machine votes, why are they used in India?

What Reforms do we need?Edit

  • What is Election Reform needed to ensure Democracy is not only practiced and enhanced but is also auditable?

The Results?Edit

The ECI have uploaded the individual vote data in a different file at a different location. You can compare the data in this file with the votes polled available on the 6th and 11th of May or look at the consolidated data file with some analysis assuming that the "votes polled" data in the earlier versions was not coded.

Unnecessary ConfusionEdit

Unfortunately, the ECI is using several different locations and different formats to convey election results:

This itself is raising questions about the information- Which is the real site? Which is the real data? What is the real ECI source? Why are many locations and formats needed?

If this is a Mistake, Why No Clarifications from the ECI?Edit

On the 6th of May we had asked the ECI to clarify the following: "The queries are returning coded names. The spreadsheet is having votes polled for each candidate- Is this test data, a wrong file or actual votes polled?"

We have not yet heard from the ECI so we have sent a reminder on the 31st of May 2009 we have asked the ECI the following: "Can you kindly indicate what the data in the CandidateAC downloaded from http://eci.nic.in/candidateinfo/frmcandidate.aspx file between the 6th and 15th is? Why is the Final votes polled data not uploaded till date at this location? When do you plan to upload it?"

On the 7th of July 2009 we have sent another more detailed request for clarification.

We have not yet heard from the ECI. The ECI must act urgently to address these issues and restore faith in the democratic process.


--Prof Madhav Nalapat and Dr. Anupam Saraph 11:59, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

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