EC to begin exploring remote voting for migrant voters on pilot basis

The Election Commission of India Tuesday said it will start exploring possibilities of remote voting on a pilot basis. A committee will also be set up to examine issues faced by migrant voters. The committee will also seek consultation from political parties.

The Election Commission has been mulling the concept over the past few years. Last year on November 12, The Indian Express had reported that the Election Commission plans to start mapping the population of migrant workers across the country to prepare a roadmap for the introduction of remote voting.

Remote voting refers to a mechanism that allows electors to vote from locations other than polling stations assigned to their registered constituencies either within the country or even abroad as the Election Commission focusses on the importance of “inclusiveness” in elections. With lakhs of voters unable to exercise their franchise on account of geographical barrier and different reasons, remote voting aims to bridge that gap.

“Voters migrate from the place of their registration to cities and other places for education, employment and other purposes. It becomes difficult for them to return to their registered polling stations to cast their vote. The Commission felt that the time has come to explore possibilities of remote voting, maybe on a pilot basis. A committee would be set up to examine the issues of migrant voters. Given the fact that the voters and political parties are the primary stakeholders, the wider consultation with all stakeholders, including political parties, would be started thereafter,” the Election Commission said in a statement Tuesday.

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A meeting was held Tuesday by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey.

The Election Commission added, “… CEC was informed that remote areas like Dumak village had a 71.14% voter turnout and Kalgoth village recorded 80.45% voter turnout in recent elections. Female voters participated in equal numbers. It was further noted that in villages like Dumak and Kalgoth, about 20-25 % registered voters are unable to cast their vote in their Constituencies as they are required to move out of their village/State broadly on account of their jobs or educational pursuits.”

“This situation opens up the opportunity to explore possibilities of much awaited leap forward to facilitate remote voting by migrant voters,” it added.

It also noted that in the 2019 general elections, quite a few urban constituencies saw a poor, less than 50% voter turnout. “The Commission noted with concern the abysmally low voter turnout in some of the metropolitan/city areas despite the fact that polling stations are setup within 2km for any voter in urban areas. The need to address voting apathy in urban areas was felt,” it said.

The Election Commission has been working with IIT-Madras on using Blockchain technology for remote voting. A technical advisory committee has also been formed, which is headed by Prof Rajat Moona, IIT-Bhilai director and former director-general of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, and comprises experts from the IITs in Delhi, Bombay, Madras and officials of the Election Commission.

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