The Election Commission (EC) spelled out its plan in a letter to political parties, asking them to attend a demonstration of the prototype Remote Voting Machine (RVM).
About Remote Voting Machine (RVM)
- 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, the EC said in its concept note. 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.
- 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, an EC source said, 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.
- Note: The Representation of the People Act, The Conduct of Election Rules and The Registration of Electors Rules will need to be amended to introduce remote voting,
Why the need for remote voting?
- Though voter turnout has increased over the years since the first few general elections after Independence when it hovered around 50%, the last three Lok Sabha polls have seen an average of one-third of registered voters sit out the elections.
- In its letter to parties, the EC expressed concern over the stagnation in voter turnout. In 2019, 67.40% of the 91.20 crore registered electors voted, slightly higher than 66.44% in 2014. In 2009, the turnout was 58.21%.
- About 30 crore electors were not exercising their franchise, as well as about the differential voter turnout in different states and UTs.
- One of the reasons, according to the EC, was internal migration that took electors away from their home constituencies.
- Electors can have their names added to the electoral rolls of the constituency they ordinarily reside in, but many chose to retain the Voter ID from their home constituencies for various reasons.
- Hearing a petition on the alleged denial of voting opportunities to migrants, the Supreme Court had in 2015 directed the EC to explore options for remote voting.
Key Area of concerns
- How the Model Code of Conduct should be implemented in the remote constituencies, how domestic migrants should be identified and how a secure environment can be provided.
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