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GIST OF SANSAD TV : Perspective on: Remote Voting Facility

  • Published
    21st Jan, 2023

Introduction

The Election Commission of India (ECI) proposed its new Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM), which would allow domestic migrants to vote in national and regional elections but has seen concerns about the logistical and administrative challenges to remote voting.  The present system used for casting votes is by Electronic voting machine (EVM) which has surrounded by criticism for being attacked by malicious content and can be hacked by unidentified sources hindering secrecy of votes in election process.

Points of discussion:

Need for a Remote voting facility:


  • India is the world’s largest democracy.
  • Constitution of India provides Universal Adult suffrage to all its citizens
  • There has been a significant increase in voter registration.
  • But, approximately one-third of the eligible voters don’t cast vote and not able to participate due to migration.
  • To eliminate this, Election commission has showcased the remote voting machine prototype for migrant for migrant voters.

Experts view:

  • Analysing problem of lack of voting:
    • Intention of the government to introduce RVM is to increase the representation of voters.
    • Management should facilitate voter comfort.
    • Ordinary residents are registered as voters, but due to their temporary translocation, voters count remains low in their original constituency.
  • Problem of classification of a domestic migrant:
    • No definition for migrant voters
    • Lack of adequate data.
    • Kinds of migration differs as data shown in 2011, as 46 crore migrants which accounts to be 37% of the voters in India.

Suggestions given to address the present cause of concern:

  • Generating Apathy amongst voters especially in urban areas.
  • Can make a process of registration for constituency based migration.
  • For example: The migration due to marriage, education or settlement can be addressed by registration in a portal generated and the data can also be maintained.
  • Election commission must spread awareness and voter campaign in urban areas.

Features of the Remote Voting Machine (RVM):

  • The RVM can handle multiple constituencies (up to 72) from a single remote polling booth.
  • For this, instead of a fixed ballot paper sheet, the machine has been modified to have an‘electronic dynamic ballot display’ which will present different candidate lists corresponding to the constituency number of the voter read by a constituency card reader.
  • The ECI has added a digital public display unitor a monitor to act as an interface between the constituency card reader and the BU display. 

Challenges of RVM:

  • Duplication of Identity of a single person /voter in multiple constituencies.
  • No direct evidence for RVM to safe from Malware, virus and hacking.
  • Voter ethics must be focused
  • Political parties involved in criticism.

Value addition:

How does the current system of Electronic voting take place?

  • EVMs started being used on a larger scale in 1992 and since 2000, have been used in all Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections.
  • The current EVM setup has a Balloting Unit (BU) which is connected to the VVPAT printer, both of which are inside the voting compartment.
  • The VVPAT is connected to the Control Unit (CU), which sits with the Presiding Officer (PO) and totals the number of votes cast, on its display board.
  • Only once the Polling Officer (PO) presses the ballot button on the CU, does the BU get enabled for the voter to cast her vote by pressing the key corresponding to the candidate on the ballot paper sheet pasted on the BU.
  • The VVPAT, which is essentially a printing machine, prints a slip with the poll symbol and candidate name, once the voter presses the key on the BU.
  • This slip is visible to the voter on the VVPAT’s glass screen for seven seconds after which it gets dropped off in a box inside the VVPAT.
  • Once a vote is cast, the BU becomes inactive till the PO schedules the next vote by enabling it again from the CU.

What are the concerns over Electronic Voting Machines (EVM)?

  • The current EVM setup has a Balloting Unit (BU) which is connected to the VVPAT printer, both of which are inside the voting compartment.
  • EVMs are liable for insider fraud, and Trojan attacks.
    • The ECI sends the EVM software to two foreign chipmakers (in the U.S. and Japan) to burn into the CPU and the manufactured chips are then sent to India for assembly into machines by the two PSUs (BEL and ECIL). 
  • This means that the manufacturers cannot read back the contentsof the software to ensure its integrity is intact.
    • Functionality testsdone by manufacturers can only reveal if the machine is working properly.
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