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Will be able to vote from anywhere, no need to return home, Election Commission has prepared remote EVM

Pankaj Prasad
Election Commissions Technical Expert Committee
Election Commissions Technical Expert Committee

The commission will test the prototype of RVM on January 16. All recognized eight national and 57 regional parties have been invited to participate in it.

During elections in the country, people will now be able to vote from anywhere. No need to return to home state for this. Taking a major initiative in the direction of increasing voter participation, the Election Commission has prepared Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM). Through this, migrant voters settled in remote areas will be able to vote for their native constituency from any part of the country.

The commission will test the prototype of RVM on January 16. All recognized eight national and 57 regional parties have been invited to participate in it. Members of the Commission's Technical Expert Committee will also be present in the demo. Polling of 72 constituencies will be possible from a remote polling booth through this RVM prepared in a public sector undertaking. Voting machines will not be connected to the internet. Based on the performance of the prototype and feedback from various stakeholders, the process of implementing the remote voting system will be taken forward appropriately.

Commission officials said to deal with this, the RVM would be developed as 'a robust, fail-proof and efficient stand-alone system' based on the existing Electronic Voting Machines.

Voting of 72 constituencies is possible only from one remote polling booth.

Remote Voting a transformative initiative Remote Voting
will be a transformative initiative to strengthen participation in electoral democracy by focusing on youth and urban apathy. -Rajeev Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner

That's why the need arose, 30 crores did not vote. In the general election 2019, there was 67.4% voting. During this period more than 30 crore electors did not exercise their franchise.

administrative challenges

Defining Domestic Migrants, Enumeration of Remote Electors and Model Code of Conduct to be followed at Remote Polling Stations located in other States.

Ensuring secrecy of voting, facility of polling agents for identification of voters and procedure for remote voting and counting of votes.
To acquaint voters with the method of remote voting, process and RVM technology.

Laws will be amended

Representation of the People Act 1950 and 1951, Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 and Electoral Registration Rules, 1960 will have to be amended.

The law can be changed only in the Parliament. However, in this case the relevant rules can be changed at the Law Ministry level. Apart from this, the number of booths and their locations will also need to be decided.
The commission has sought written suggestions from recognized political parties on these issues by January 31.

Remote EVM is a great initiative of the commission: Qureshi

Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi has termed as a great initiative of the Election Commission to make Remote Electronic Voting Machine and involve all parties in its demo. Welcoming the commission's move on an experimental basis, he said it would help in removing the difficulties faced by the system. Qureshi said, this issue was hanging in the balance for a long time. We were not able to find a solution for this. If the commission has found an electronic solution to this, it is a very good thing. The best part is that it is being done in a democratic manner. The commission has assured that this will be done after consultation with all the stakeholders. They will also do a pilot experiment of it. It's a great idea, because a pilot experiment will reveal all the problems it comes with. Qureshi said, I think overall, it is a very good step and hopefully there will be a consensus.

Congress objected to remote EVMs, said- Commission should first stop misuse

Congress fiercely attacked the Election Commission's proposal of remote EVMs. The main opposition party said the commission should first allay the apprehensions of the opposition regarding misuse of EVMs, as these apprehensions seriously undermine the faith in the electoral system.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, referring to the voting irregularities in the recently held Gujarat assembly elections, said, "Now imagine if these suspicious patterns can be extended to other places through a multi-constituency voting machine?" This would seriously undermine trust in the entire electoral system. We demand the Election Commission to restore confidence in the electoral process with full transparency and address the concerns of the opposition, Ramesh said.

Trust in electoral system for smooth functioning of democracy 

Jairam Ramesh said that trust in electoral system is paramount for smooth functioning of democracy. A German court had in 2009 struck down Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) there because the obscurity of the machine could not give a voter confidence that his vote was being recorded correctly. At the same time, despite its widespread use, the EVM created a lot of controversy in India. Unfortunately, this issue has not yet been properly resolved. Ramesh said, voters and parties should have faith in the electoral system.