Poll fee plans to map migrant inhabitants for distant voting

The Election Commission plans to start out mapping the inhabitants of migrant employees throughout the nation to arrange a roadmap for the introduction of distant voting, The Indian Express has learnt.

According to officers, the ballot panel will conduct the train to evaluate the deployment of distant voting machines sooner or later primarily based on accessible knowledge on the migrant inhabitants. The move is “at a nascent stage”, a authorities official mentioned, and is a part of the ballot panel’s reform proposals submitted to the Union Law Ministry.

“A migrant mapping exercise will happen soon, some of it has already started…A large migrant population is only present in a handful of states. We already have an assessment on where a particular constituency’s migrant laborers are located…For example, we know that migrant labourers from a constituency like Sultanpur in UP will be located mostly across 5-7 metropolises,” the official mentioned.

“We are in the process of designing the machine (for remote voting). And the entire process will take a long time,” the official mentioned.

In March, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had mentioned that the idea of distant voting will see “the light of day” by the 2024 elections.

The EC has been working with IIT-Madras on utilizing Blockchain know-how for distant voting. A technical advisory committee has additionally been fashioned, which is headed by Prof Rajat Moona, IIT-Bhilai director and former director-general of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, and comprising specialists from IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Madras and EC officers. “This (mapping of migrant labourers) is a mammoth exercise, which the administration has to take up and they are contemplating it. One method could be that migrants are identified at the block level…they could do door-to-door surveys since many states do not have any database on migrants. They (EC) have all the electoral rolls and know which constituencies the voters belong to,” Moona mentioned.

“The prototype EVM machine will look like the existing EVM, and we will showcase it to political parties. We have already made two presentations to the EC, and we will be demonstrating it around the first week of December to the EC,” he mentioned, including that “people will have to apply for the option of remote voting.” According to Moona, the goal is to make use of the prototype first in a bypoll after which an meeting election as soon as the approvals are in place. “It depends on feedback. We are aiming for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. There is also a huge cycle of manufacturing that will be needed for around at least a lakh machines. This itself will be a long process. We have not set any deadline,” he mentioned.

According to former CEC S Y Quraishi, the important thing problem could be “public acceptability in a country where a simple dummy machine is questioned till today despite the availability of the VVPAT” and to make “political parties agree to it”.

The authorities official, in the meantime, mentioned the method could be multi-layered and time-consuming. “There are a set of reforms that we have sent to the Law Ministry, including Aadhaar-linking for de-duplication and a single electoral roll. We will test the prototype EVM in a bypoll or in some constituency. It will then go for multiple consultations with the Parliamentary Standing Committee and all political parties and then public comments will also be invited,” the official mentioned.

“There has to be some kind of a voting machine, which has no linkage with the Internet. It has to be an EVM. That would be the concept. We would know if an area has around 1000-1500 voters and will make arrangements accordingly and set up a booth,” the official mentioned. Detailing the prototype, the official mentioned: “We are trying for a machine that has an electronic display to show the ballot paper of the voter’s constituency once they press a number on the screen… Political parties can deploy their agents across these booths and after voting, the machines can be sealed and depending on the states, we can fly them for counting to one location.”

Explained: Why deal with distant voting

Remote voting refers to a mechanism that permits electors to vote from areas apart from polling stations assigned to their registered constituencies ? both inside the nation and even overseas ? because the Election Commission focusses on the significance of “inclusiveness” in elections. With lakhs of voters unable to train their franchise on account of geographical barrier because of totally different causes, distant voting goals to bridge that hole.