Election Commission Ready with Pilot for Remote Voting for Domestic Migrants: How It Will Work | EXPLAINED

Election commission of India is now ready with a pilot for Remote Electronic Voting Machines, or Remote EVMs (RVMs) for domestic migrants, who will be able to cast their vote for their home constituency from remote locations. Amid low turnout in the recently held elections, the election body has said that inability to vote due to internal or domestic migration should be addressed on priority to improve voter turnout and ensure participative elections.

The modified form of EVM can handle 72 multiple constituencies from a single remote polling booth. The initiative, if implemented, can be a social change to help migrants connect with their roots. At times, migrants are reluctant to enroll themselves at their place of work, including reluctance to remove their names from the electoral rolls of their home constituencies as they state it as permanent residence. As a result, they miss out on exercising their right to vote.

Block diagram of Remote Electronic Voting Machine or RVM. (Source: ECI)

While there is no central database available for migration within India, analysis of data available in the public domain indicates work, marriage and education as important components of domestic migration. Out-migration among rural populations predominates in overall domestic migration with about 85 per cent of internal migration within states.

“Migration-based disenfranchisement is not really an option in the age of technological advancement. The voter turnout in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was 67.4 per cent and the Election Commission of India has registered a case against more than 30 crore voters for not exercising their franchise and in different states/UTs. Concerned about the issue of individual voters voting.

How did the idea of ​​remote voting come about?

Soon after taking over as Chief Election Commissioner, Rajeev Kumar learned firsthand about the issues of domestic migration – from his visit to Dumak village in Chamoli district – enabling migrant voters to exercise their franchise from their current place of residence Focused on creating.

Realizing such empowerment would require legal, legislative, administrative and technological interventions, for which the ECI deliberated extensively to find inclusive solutions to facilitate the electoral participation of migrants at all socioeconomic levels and has explored alternative voting methods.

With a view to find reliable, accessible and acceptable technical solutions to all stakeholders, the polling body explored the option of using a modified version of the time-tested model of M3 EVMs to enable voting at remote polling stations – outside Polling station home constituency – for domestic migrants. The migrant voter would then not be required to return to his home district to cast his vote.

What is rvm?

RVM is essentially a modified version of the existing EVM system. To facilitate the participation of domestic expatriates from remote locations so that they can vote for their home constituencies, ECI is set to pilot a Multi-Election RVM consisting of: Remote Control Unit, Remote Ballot Unit, Remote Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail, Constituency Card Reader, Public Display Control Unit and Remote Symbol Loading Unit.

The ‘Remote Control Unit’ records the total votes for each candidate in each constituency, as well as displays the total votes for each constituency in sequential order of the candidates, one by one. The results will be shared with the appropriate Home Returning Officers (ROs).

A schematic of the remote voting concept. (Source: ECI)

RVM allows overseas voters to exercise their franchise from their current place of residence to their home constituency on the same day of poll. The far flung voter has to pre-register for the facility by applying online/offline to his home constituency RO within the pre-notified time before the election.

Voter details will be verified in the home constituency and request for remote voting will be approved after successful verification by marking as remote voter. Special multi-electoral remote voting polling stations will be set up at places of current residence.

It is a standalone, non-networked system with the same security features as existing Indian EVMs and provides the voter with an EVM-like voting experience.

Why do we need rvm?

India is the largest democracy in the world. It has a huge population and, according to the ECI, despite an increase in electoral registration and voters, stabilizing participation is a major concern. According to the election body, a third of voters do not vote.

“In other words, almost one out of every three voters does not participate in the direct electoral process to exercise their vote. This translates to a higher figure of about 30 crore voters,” it said.

According to the 2011 census, India has 453.6 million Indians (37 per cent) as expatriates – those who have now settled in a place different from their previous residence. However, 75 per cent of these migrations are for reasons related to marriage and family, followed by work-related and education-related migration. It should also be noted that internal migration is predominant among the rural population and is mostly intra-state.

ECI is working with two public sector units manufacturing the existing EVMs – Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) – to create a robust, failproof and efficient standalone system for remote voting to develop. Existing EVMs under the guidance of Technical Expert Committee.

ECIL under Department of Atomic Energy has developed a prototype of Multi-constituency Remote EVM (RVM).

what lies ahead?

ECI has invited all the eight recognized national parties and 57 state political parties to demonstrate the working of the multi-election prototype RVM on January 16, 2023. The Election Commission has asked the parties to depute two representatives to participate in the discussions and demonstrations.

Members of the Technical Expert Committee will also be present, while the polling body invites written views of the parties for in-house voting on issues relating to legislation, administrative procedures and necessary changes in voting method/RVM/technology, if any, by 31st January Is. Migrants.

Based on the feedback received from various stakeholders and the performance of the prototype, ECI will take forward the process of implementing the remote voting method.

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