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Remote Electronic Voting Machine

Context:

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

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)
  2. What are Remote EVMs?
  3. What is the current proposal for remote voting?
  4. Why do we need Remote voting?
  5. Challenges for RVMs

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

  • Electronic voting is the standard means of conducting elections using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in India.
  • The government-owned Electronics Corporation of India and Bharat Electronics designed and tested the technology in the 1990s.
  • They were gradually incorporated into Indian elections between 1998 and 2001.

What are Remote EVMs?

  • Multiple constituencies can be handled by a single remote polling booth using remote electronic voting machines (RVMs).
  • Voter portability will be used as a pilot project in nine states’ upcoming 2023 Assembly elections.
  • Voter portability could therefore be fully introduced in the general elections of 2024 if the pilot is a success.

What is the current proposal for remote voting?

  • Working with the Electronics Corporation of India, a company under the Department of Atomic Energy, the EC has come up with a prototype Remote Voting Machine (RVM), which is a modified version of the existing Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
  • The RVM will be able to handle 72 constituencies in a single remote polling booth.
  • The special remote polling booths would be set up in different states when elections are on in the home state of migrants.
  • The EC proposed using this in a State Assembly election as a pilot so internal migrants within a state can cast their ballots.
  • The remote voter will have to pre-register for the facility by applying online or offline with the Returning Officer of the home constituency.
  • The special polling stations would then be set up in the places of current residence of the remote voters.
  • The RVM is a standalone and non-networked system.
  • Instead of a paper ballot sheet, the RVM would have a dynamic ballot display that can change with the selection of different constituencies.
  • The system would have a device similar to the VVPAT so voters can verify their votes.
  • The units will save the number of votes for each candidate for each of the constituencies, to be tallied on counting day. The results would then be shared with the home RO.

How will the EC keep the process secure?

  • According to the EC, the RVM, like the EVM, would not be connected to the internet.
  • The RO in the remote location will load the symbols of candidates into the unit using a laptop.
  • These laptops, would not be connected to the internet.
  • Representatives of political parties and candidates would be invited to be present when the symbols are loaded onto the unit.
  • The symbols would be visible on a display unit for all to see.

Why do we need Remote voting?

  • For a variety of reasons, registered voters don’t actually vote at all. In the context of India, domestic migration is one of the main causes of this.
  • There were about 45.36 crore migrants in India as per the 2011 census (the figure will have increased since then) (both intra and inter-state).
    • It makes up about 37% of the nation’s population. Marriage, natural disasters, work, and a host of other factors can all be factors in migration.
  • This indicates that a sizable portion of the population is denied their franchise because of the demands of their jobs or a lack of resources for travel. This blatantly contradicts the EC’s mission of “No voter left behind.”
  • The idea behind Remote voting is to ensure these migrant voters participate in the electoral process.

Challenges for RVMs

  • Defining domestic migrants
  • Implementation of Model Code of Conduct
  • Ensuring secrecy of voting
  • Facility of polling agents for identification of voters
  • Process and method of remote voting and
  • Counting of votes

-Source: The Hindu


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