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11th January 2023 (7 Topics)

Barking up the wrong tree

Context:

  • The Election Commission of India (EC) has announced its intention of introducing remote voting across the country, a facility to enable voters who are residents elsewhere to vote in their home constituencies.

The queries around Remote Voting Machine (RVM):

  • The reach and validity: To ensure that all those who wish to apply for remote voting are able to do so without let or hindrance and that all applications are processed fairly without inadvertent or selective exclusions.
  • Criteria to include and exclude the beneficiaries: It is not sufficient just to define a protocol as it needs to be ensured that all applications and the decisions on them are publicly verifiable, from both remote and home locations.
  • The process of invalidation of local voters: Since the two lists will be at different locations, the correctness will not be easy to demonstrate in a publicly verifiable way.

The Challenges:

  • On counting of the votes been cast: The counting and the VVPAT audit will happen at the remote location or at the home constituency after consolidation. This decision remains a question.
  • The controversy of polling agents: The aim is to ensure that in a different political environment at the remote site, a remote voter will not be coerced in the absence of a polling agent in the booths.
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