What is Remote Voting for migrants? What is the State of Migrant Population in India? What is the Current Proposal for Remote Voting? What are the Issues with Remote Voting migrants? Read further to know more.
Over 91% of India’s eligible voters were registered for the most recent general election in 2019, and 67% of them cast ballots—the greatest voter participation in the country’s history. Only 17% of eligible voters registered for India’s first general election in 1951, and only 4% of them cast ballots.
However, it is concerning that a third of eligible voters—a staggering 30 crore people—do not cast a ballot. Internal migrants’ inability to vote for various reasons is one of the many causes, which also include urban indifference and geographic limitations.
What is Remote Voting for migrants?
Any method that enables voters to cast their ballots from locations other than the polling place designated for their registration address is referred to as remote voting. Both domestically and internationally may be used as the remote voting location.
It includes both non-electronic and electronic voting processes.
What is the State of Migrant Population in India?
- Internal migrants now number 450 million, up 45% from the 2001 Census, according to the 2011 Census.
- Among them, 26% (117 million) of the migration takes place within districts in the same state, while 12% (54 million) of the migration takes place across states.
- This figure is low, according to both official and unaffiliated experts.
- When family members are included, the number of short-term and cyclical migrants could reach 60–65 million, or about 100 million in total. Among them, interstate migrants make up half.
Background information regarding the issue of Remote voting for migrants
- While there are many reasons why registered voters do not actually cast their ballots, domestic migration is mostly influenced by marriage, natural catastrophes, employment, etc.
- According to the 2011 census, there are around 45.36 crore (forty-five point three six) migrants in India (both intra and interstate), making up roughly 37% of the population.
- The fact that these migrants are unable to travel to vote disenfranchises a significant portion of the population and goes against the EC’s motto, “No voter left behind.”
- As a result, a technology solution was put out that enables voters to cast ballots remotely in a secure setting.
Why is there a Need for Remote voting for migrants?
A “Committee of Officers on Domestic Migrants” was established by the Election Commission (EC) earlier to handle this problem. A solution in the form of “remote voting” was proposed in the Committee’s 2016 report.
The EC summoned representatives from each recognised national and state political party to a meeting to examine potential legal, administrative, and legislative changes that could be made to address this significant issue.
Enable Migrants to Vote:
- 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 revealed that roughly 20–25% of registered voters in Uttarakhand’s Dumak and Kalgoth villages are unable to vote in their local elections because they had to leave their hometowns.
Decrease in Voting Turnout:
- Out of a total of 910 million electors, over 300 million persons abstained from voting in the 2019 general elections.
- Over 91% of the country’s eligible voters were registered for the general election of 2019, and 67% of them cast ballots—the highest voter turnout in the country’s history.
- However, it is concerning that a third of eligible voters—a staggering 30 crore people—do not cast a ballot.
Increasing Registrations of Unorganised Workers:
- The government’s e-SHRAM platform has approximately 10 million migrant workers registered. The remote voting project will have significant effects if it is put into practise.
- The government’s e-SHRAM platform has over 10 million migrant workers enrolled for the unorganised sector. The remote voting project will have significant effects if it is put into practise.
Lack of Access to Vote:
- Migrant workers are denied this fundamental right to vote in two ways:
- A voter can only register to vote in the constituency where they are a “permanent resident,” to start.
- Second, people can only exercise their right to vote in person at the registered district where they are registered.
- Internal migration, which removed voters from their home constituencies, continued to be one of the factors contributing to lower voter turnout.
- Voters had the option to have their names added to the electoral rolls of the constituency in which they typically reside, although many did so for a variety of reasons.
Supreme Court’s Direction on Remote voting for migrants:
- The Supreme Court (SC) had instructed the EC to look at solutions for remote voting in 2015 after hearing a petition regarding the purported restriction of voting chances to migrants.
What is the Current Proposal for Remote voting for migrants?
- A modified version of the current electronic voting machine is known as an Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM) EVM.
- When elections are held in migrant workers’ home states, special remote polling places are set up in other states. From a single remote polling location, the RVM may manage several constituencies.
- For this, the machine has been updated to incorporate an electronic dynamic ballot display instead of a fixed ballot paper sheet. This display will present different candidate lists according to the voter’s constituency number as read by a constituency card reader.
- In order for voters to confirm their ballots, the system would contain a gadget comparable to the.
- On the day of the count, the units will save the number of votes cast for each candidate in each constituency.
The home RO would then be informed of the findings (Returning Officer).
- Election supervision in one or more constituencies is the responsibility of a returning officer.
What are the Issues with Remote Voting for migrants?
Theoretically, larger parties and wealthier candidates who can fundraise throughout the area and beyond may benefit more from remote voting. The idea of a level playing field in the electoral process would be broken by this. Other issues and concerns regarding Remote voting for migrants are,
Definition of migrant:
- Migrants are a diverse group with a variety of identities, environments, and circumstances.
- The difficulty for the EC is to define migrants in a way that is both inclusive and prevents abuse of the system.
- If all migrant voters are permitted to cast remote ballots, the EC must make that determination. It must also decide how long a migrant must remain away from home in order to qualify.
Security and Integrity:
- The security mechanism and voting procedure of the Multi-Constituency RVM for migrant voters will be the same as those of the EVM. This basically indicates that the difficulties with the current EVMs will continue to exist with relation to the RVMs.
- Systems for casting votes remotely are susceptible to fraud, hacking, and other types of manipulation.
- This could produce unreliable and inaccurate results and jeopardise the election’s overall integrity.
- The privacy of voters and the accuracy of the results must always be protected during elections, which calls for a high level of security.
Accessibility of Remote voting for migrants:
- It’s possible that not all voters have access to the internet or other essential tools for online voting.
- Similar to how mail-in ballots might not be timely delivered or reach some remote places,
- Additionally, some individuals might not be allowed to go to embassies or consulates to cast their ballots.
- This might result in some persons losing their right to vote, which would affect the outcome of the election.
- Remote voting will encounter logistical and administrative difficulties in addition to machine-related issues.
- These include queries regarding the remote registration of voters, the removal of names from the home constituency electoral rolls, the transparency of remote voting applications, etc.
Veracity and Verification
- Additionally, a biometric software-based voter verification method, like facial recognition, could result in false positives or negatives in voter identification, encouraging fraud or depriving persons of their right to
Eligibility & Qualification of Remote voting for migrants:
- EC has not yet made a decision regarding migrant voters’ eligibility or the length of time they must reside away from home in order to qualify.
Disputable nature of EVMs:
- How do RVMs enter the conversation when there are more inquiries about technology-based voting?
This decision could lead to greater concerns about the integrity of the democratic process as other nations reject EVMs in favour of paper ballots.
- RVMs, according to the EC, are just as secure as EVMs that are now in use, but adding new technological elements will inevitably generate more concerns.
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.
Keeping Election Integrity:
- An online voting system must show, as part of the verification process, that it has upheld election integrity and that there have been no manipulations of the voting or tallying procedures.
Acceptability of the Stakeholders:
- Any remote voting method must consider the trust and acceptance of all those involved in the electoral process, including voters, political parties, and election machinery.
- The success of remote voting is significantly influenced by the stakeholders’ acceptance of it.
Stakeholders must view remote voting as a practical and secure alternative to conventional in-person voting in order for it to be adopted.
- They must be persuaded that the process is genuine and valid, and that the outcomes will be accurate and impartial.
Trust & Transparency:
- 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.
- To enhance the transparency of online voting technology and increase confidence in the results, a number of transparency measures must be established.
Secure Technology in remote voting for migrants:
- To avoid hacking and election process manipulation, remote voting equipment needs to be safe and impenetrable.
- This can involve taking precautions like multi-factor authentication, encryption, and frequent security assessments.
- To ensure that only qualified voters may cast ballots, the remote voting process should have reliable voter verification procedures.
- This can be done using techniques like digital signatures, biometric authentication, or voter ID verification.
Auditing and Transparency:
- Clear standards and procedures should be in place for ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the vote count, and the remote voting process should be auditable and visible.
- This may involve hiring impartial auditors and disclosing comprehensive vote tallies and results.
- To guarantee that voters comprehend the procedure and can confidently and accurately cast their vote remotely, voter education and awareness initiatives are crucial.
- To guarantee that the remote voting process is open and accountable, a clear and strong legal framework outlining the guidelines, processes, and roles is required.
Article written by Aseem Muhammed
UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)
1. Right to vote and to be elected in India is a (2017)(a) Fundamental Right
(b) Natural Right
(c) Constitutional Right
(d) Legal Right