Explained: What is Remote EVM, EC's proposed reform for domestic migrant voters

Jan 17, 2023 05:39 PM IST

Remote EVM will help domestic migrant voters to vote from the place of current residence. In the 2019 General Elections, over 30 crore registered voters did not exercise their franchise. Internal migration (domestic migrants) is one of the most prominent reason for this.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) plans to deploy Remote Voting Machines (RVMs) to allow domestic migrant voters to vote from locations other than their registered constituency. However, it has been marred by controversy, as the scheduled demonstration of the voting machine was cancelled due to opposition parties' concerns about possibility of the device manipulation.

Election commission is planning to introduce Remote EVM. (Representative Image)
Election commission is planning to introduce Remote EVM. (Representative Image)

What is the current provision for remote voting?

Currently, ECI allows postal ballot voting for the specific category of people not being able to vote-in-person at designated polling station in their registered constituency.

1. Postal ballot facility for voting from within the constituency is available for senior citizens, PwDs, covid-affected and personnel of essential services.

2. Postal ballot facility for voting from outside constituency is only available to voters belonging to distinct categories like Service Voters, Special Office holders, persons on election duty and persons under preventive detention.

ALSO READ: Make remote EVM foolproof

How ECI plans to help migrant voters use their franchise?

In a concept paper first published last month, ECI stated that various options like two-way physical transit postal ballots, proxy voting, early voting in special Early Voting Centres, one- way or two-way electronic transmission of postal ballots (ETPBS), Internet-based voting system and so on were explored.

Considering various aspects like robustness and integrity of the system, familiarity of the voters with the method, availability of a time-tested credible technology and faith of voters and political parties alike, the poll watchdog says, it has zeroed down the option of using multi-constituency Remote EVM (RVM).

What is Remote EVM (RVM)?

The RVM system allows migrated voters to vote in their home constituency elections on the same day that they are registered to vote in their current residence.

It is a stand-alone, non-networked system with the same security features as existing Indian EVMs and offers the same voting experience to voters.

The RVM system is essentially a modified version of the existing EVM system that, through the use of dynamic ballot display, can cater to multiple constituencies at a single polling station.

How does Remote EVM (RVM) work?

According to ECI's 13-page concept paper, the working of RVM is as followed:

1. The proposed RVM voting method necessitates that remote voters pre-register with his home constituency for remote voting facilities by applying online/offline within a pre-determined time before elections.

2. Voter information will be verified in the elector's home constituency, and the voter's request for remote voting will be approved after successful verification by designating him or her as a remote voter to vote in a remote location (a location other than the voter's home constituency).

3. Special multi-constituency remote voting polling stations will be set up in the places of their current residence.

It should be noted that voter turnout in the 2019 General Elections was 67.4 percent, implying that over 30 crore registered voters did not exercise their franchise. There are numerous reasons for a voter not voting, but inability to vote due to internal migration (domestic migrants) is one of the most prominent.

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