The Election Commission of India has announced the Remote Voting Machine (RVM), due to which the people of the electoral state will be able to vote even while living in other states. On December 28, 2022, in a letter to all political parties, the Commission informed about the Remote Voting Machine and said that on January 16, an exhibition has been organized on its use where its live demo will be shown.
But what is RVM?
RVM will also be like Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). This is a modified version of it. This will make it easier for domestic migrants (i.e. those who have the name of another state in their identity card but live in another state due to work or other reasons) to vote. For example, if you are a resident of Madhya Pradesh but you live in Uttar Pradesh due to work/studies or any other reason, then you will be able to vote for Madhya Pradesh elections even sitting in UP. Remote EVM will do the work of making this possible.
RVM will be able to control 72 constituencies from one polling station. Its construction will be done by a public sector company only.
But why the need for RVM?
If you look at the voting percentage of the last three general elections, only one-third of the voters have cast their votes. The Election Commission expressed the same concern that the voting percentage is not increasing. In the 2019 general elections, out of more than 91 crore voters, only 67.4% voted. The voting percentage in the 2014 general elections was 66.4% and in the 2009 elections it was 58.2%. The Election Commission told that, 30 crore voters are not using their rights.
What was the main reason given by the Election Commission for not doing so?
According to the Election Commission, one reason for this was internal migration i.e. when for some reason someone migrates from his state to another state. The commission told that if voters want, they can get their voter ID made for the state they go to, but most of the voters do not do so. In such a situation, during the hearing of a petition in 2015, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to consider the option of remote voting. According to the 2011 census, 453.6 million Indians or 37% of the population are “migrants” and 75% of these migrants leave their state for marriage or other family-related reasons.
What are the challenges before the Election Commission regarding RVM?
The Election Commission itself has identified administrative, legal and technical challenges. According to this, regarding polling booths, who will be called expatriates, as well as some rules will need to be changed and laws amended. Apart from this, there will be a challenge before the commission regarding the method and counting of remote voting.
But will the Election Commission be able to keep the process of remote voting safe?
According to the commission, RVM is also like EVM, it will not be connected to any internet. Laptop will be used to set RVM. The Indian Express quoted sources in the Election Commission as saying that the laptop that would load the RVM with election symbols of political parties would not be connected to the internet. Also, while loading these symbols, a representative of each party will be present on the spot.
Then what questions are the opposition worried about on RVM?
- The Congress has objected to this. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has issued a letter demanding restoration of faith in the electoral system.
- Several parties including RJD, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) say they will take a tough stand after examining the issue in detail. The Samajwadi Party says the poll panel will first have to answer the opposition’s questions about EVM misuse.
- DMK Rajya Sabha MP P Wilson says, the Election Commission does not have the authority to implement such a prototype without amending the existing law. There will be bogus voting in a new way and the process of fair voting will be affected.
- TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Shekhar Ray wrote in his tweet, VVPAT system could not prove to be transparent. It was imposed by force and the purpose for which it was implemented has failed. Now a new method is being adopted for the migrants to vote from their present place. No logic can support this.