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  • 05 November, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Remote Voting Facility

Remote Voting Facility

  • The Union government recently informed the Supreme Court that it is thinking about implementing a remote voting system that would allow non-resident Indians (NRI), particularly migrant workers, to cast their votes while maintaining the integrity of the electoral process.

What is the History?

  • Officials from the Election Commission suggested adopting blockchain technology to facilitate remote voting in 2020. The goal is to remove voting's geographic restrictions.
  • The Commission has been thinking about the potential for remote voting, which would let people vote from their place of employment.
  • Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which required overseas voters to physically be present in their electoral seats to cast their ballots, had been deemed an "unreasonable restriction" by the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill of 2017.
  • The Bill was later enacted in 2018, but it expired when the 16th Lok Sabha was dissolved.
  • Only the following voters are currently permitted to vote by postal ballot: service voters (members of the armed forces, members of a state's armed police force, and government employees stationed abroad), voters who are on election duty, voters who are 80 years of age or older, voters who are persons with disabilities (PwD), and voters who are currently being held without bail.

What is Remote Voting?

  • Votes may be cast remotely in person at a location other than the designated polling site or at a different time, by mail, or through a designated proxy.
  • Several political parties have called on the EC to ensure that migrant workers, or NRIs (Non-Resident Indians), who lose out on voting because they cannot afford to travel home during elections to exercise their right to vote, are able to cast their ballots from the city in which they are employed.

Why is remote voting necessary?

Unfavorable circumstances

  • Voters relocate to cities and other locations for education, job, and other reasons from the place of their registration. They find it challenging to go back to their designated polling places to cast their ballots.
  • Additionally, it was found that roughly 20–25% of registered voters in Uttarakhand villages like Dumak and Kalgoth are unable to cast their ballots in their local elections since they must leave their communities to pursue employment or higher education.

Reduction in Voter Turnout

  • Out of a total of 910 million electors, over 300 million persons abstained from voting in the 2019 general elections.

Issues with Metropolitan Areas

  • Despite the fact that polling places are located within two kilometers of every voter in urban areas, the ECI also underlined its concern over poor voter turnout in various metropolitan and municipal districts. Urban voting indifference needed to be addressed, it was felt.

Rising Unorganized Worker Registrations:

  • The government's e-SHRAM platform has over 10 million migrant workers enrolled in the unorganised sector. The remote voting project will have significant effects if it is put into practice.

Health Issues:

  • It is necessary to talk about elderly persons' health issues in particular because they are increasingly being considered. In this situation, the remote voting facility will lead to an increase in both the urban and rural voting rates.

What Problems Arise With Remote Voting?

  • Security: Cyber-attacks and other security flaws can affect any new technology system, including blockchain-based systems and others.
  • Voting systems based on technology might likewise provide privacy problems and concerns.
  • Veracity and verification: In addition, a voter verification system using biometric technologies, such facial recognition, could result in false positives or negatives in voter identification, aiding fraud or depriving persons of their right to vote.
  • Voters must have a dependable internet connection and be protected against malware. In some nations, there is a relatively low level of Internet availability, penetration, and e-government service utilization.
  • Voting results may potentially be impacted by software bugs or viruses on voters' devices.
  • Privacy/Secrecy: To safeguard both voter privacy and the validity of the results, elections always require a high level of security. Online voting technology must get beyond restrictions that could compromise a voter's privacy in order to meet the security requirements of elections.
  • Preferred Environment: It's also possible that the environment in which voting takes place is uncontrolled. It is challenging to guarantee that someone votes freely and without being forced.

What is the NRI voting procedure currently?

  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act of 2010 made it possible for eligible NRIs who had been away for more than six months to cast their ballots, but they had to do it in person at the polling place where they had registered as an overseas elector.
  • Prior to 2010, an Indian citizen who was a registered voter and had lived abroad for longer than six months was not permitted to cast a ballot. This was due to the fact that if an NRI spent more than six consecutive months abroad, their name would be removed from electoral rolls.
  • An NRI is eligible to vote in the constituency that includes the address listed on their passport as their primary residence.

Way Forward

  • The integrity of the election must be properly preserved via an online voting system, and voting and tallying procedures must be free from manipulation.
  • The officials are said to have informed the committee that the best way to introduce remote voting is through political consensus, but any system of remote voting must take into account the confidence and acceptance of all electoral stakeholders, including voters, political parties, and election machinery.
  • Using an online voting system would be meaningless even with all of the necessary legal safeguards in place if the administration or the populace lacked confidence in its accuracy, security, and integrity.

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Source: Sansad Tv

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