A large number of electors will find it easy to vote from the place they are currently working out of.
In yet another disruptive electoral innovation, the Election Commission of India has developed the prototype of a voting machine working totally offline (i.e., not connected to any grid or information network). The Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM) has been created with an objective to address low voter turnouts in certain geographies by bringing in a working mechanism to enable citizens to vote in any election without being physically present in the constituency or the booth on voting day.
The current proposal, for which the ECI has invited all national political parties for a demonstration on January 16, seeks feedback and complaints, suggestions for improvements, and objections, and will cover only internal migrants. It will not be available to those who are overseas.
If this proposal works out, India, which is rarely recognised as being a land of internal immigrants, i.e., people who live and work in a place, state or region they were not born in, will have a more robust voting process. A large number of electors will find it easy to vote from the place they are currently working out of, without having to travel back home to cast their vote.
Since a large number of such migrants are blue collar workers, or employed in the unorganised sector and eking out a marginal income, their onus and burden of expensive travel back home for the sake of democracy is removed.
As a rule, the move must be welcomed because if technology can help remove the pain of people, cut costs, save time and improve efficiency, it should be deployed. But social and political acceptance is crucial for the move — and while the Opposition must resist the temptation of falling into a tribal trap of criticising every move of the government, the ECI and Centre, too, must ensure every step is taken, and patiently, instead of running roughshod over people’s rights and bulldozing the reform.
Hopefully, migrants can vote remotely soon.