Remote EVM ready to help migrants vote outside States: ECI

Remote EVM ready to help migrants vote outside States: ECI

News Analysis   /   Remote EVM ready to help migrants vote outside States: ECI

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Published on: December 30, 2022

Source: The Economic Times

Context:

The Election Commission of India (ECI) says that it has developed a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine which would enable remote voting by migrant voters.

More about the news:

  • EC has developed a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM).
  • It can handle multiple constituencies from a single remote polling booth.
  • EC has invited all recognized eight national and 57 state political parties to demonstrate the functioning of the RVM.
  • If the pilot is successful then in the 2024 general elections voter portability can be fully implemented.

The problem: migration-based disenfranchisement

Domestic migration: It has been a big reason why registered voters do not end up voting.

Increasing numbers: As per the 2011 census, there are nearly 45.36 crore migrants in India (both intra and interstate).

It amounts to approximately 37 per cent of the country’s population.

Voting denied: For a large chunk of the population, its franchise gets denied due to exigencies of work or lack of resources to travel.

This goes directly against the EC’s “No voter left behind” goal.

The proposed solution: Remote EVMs

Committee of Officers on Domestic Migrants: The EC has formed this committee to consider various solutions:

  • Internet voting
  • Proxy voting
  • Early voting and
  • Postal ballots for migrant workers

All of these ideas were rejected due to reasons such as the lack of secrecy of the vote, the lack of sanctity of one person one vote principle, issues of accessibility for unlettered voters, etc.

Thus, a technological solution was proposed: Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM).

Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM)

Development: The RVM was developed with the assistance of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).

Technology: It is based on the currently used EVM system.

RVMs are “stand-alone, non-networked systems”.

Standalone system:

It is an application or software that does not need to be bundled with other software or applications, nor does it require anything else to function.

It's software that can “stand on its own” without help from the Internet or another processor computer.

Procedure: RVM will be set up in remote locations outside the state under similar conditions as current polling booths.

Working of RVM

  1. A single Remote Ballot Unit (RBU) will be able to cater to multiple constituencies (as many as 72).
  2. It uses a “dynamic ballot display board” instead of the usually printed paper ballot sheet on EVMs.
  3. The Ballot Unit Overlay Display (BUOD) will show the requisite candidates based on the constituency number read on the voter’s Constituency card.
  4. A barcode scanning system will be used to read these cards.

The voting process will be as follow:

  1. After verifying a voter’s identity, their constituency card will be read with a public display showing the constituency details and candidates.
  2. This will also be displayed privately, on the BUOD in the RVM’s RBU.
  3. The voter will then vote and each vote will be stored constituency-wise in the control unit of the voting machine.
  4. The VVPAT system is expected to work along the same lines as the new technology.
  5. Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verified paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system.

Significance:

  • Domestic migrants don’t have to travel back to their home states to vote.
  • It can lead to a social transformation for the migrants
  • It will help to boost voter turnout.
  • It will also help in strengthening India’s democratic process as voters will be connected with their roots.
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