India’s new proposal for migrant voting

Source: The post is based on an article “India’s new proposal for migrant voting” published in The Hindu on 18th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Electoral Reforms in India

News: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced that it has developed a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM). However, the ECI could not demonstrate a prototype of RVM.

Functioning of Present EVMs

The use of EVMs started in 1992 and it is in use in all Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections since 2000.

The latest version M3 model started manufactured from 2013. From 2017, the use of VVPATs has become universal in elections.

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Concerns associated with EVMs

EVMs autenticity should be machine-independent, or software and hardware independent. It means, that even if the voting machine is tampered, the same should be detectable in an offline audit.

Presently VVPAT is the mechanism to ensure the above. However, it has its own set of problems as per as per Former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan.

VVPAT printout appears behind the VVPAT’s glass for seven seconds. it does not mean they have verified it. Presently, if a voter gets a wrong slip, she/he can test vote in the presence of an election officer. But if the test vote is correct, the voter can be penalised or even prosecuted.

Considering the fact that VVPAT generate voting slips, it has to be refilled with slips, which requires it to be connected to a laptop. It questions the ECI’s claim that the EVM-VVPAT system is not connected to any external device.

Mr. Gopinathan states in his report that a fixed number of votes cast at the beginning of the polls in each polling station to know its proper functioning. But a hack can easily bypass the first few votes, thereby preventing detection of foul play.

Is RVM different to EVM?

The EC states in its concept note that the Multi-Constituency RVM for migrant voting will have the same security system and voting experience as the EVM. Therefore, it will have similar challenges.

Second, the commission repots that RVM can handle multiple constituencies (up to 72) from a single remote polling booth. It will have an Electronic dynamic ballot display instead of fixed ballot paper sheet. This would raise questions about how these new devices communicate with each other.

Third, RVM will present logistical and administrative challenges besides the technichal ones.

 

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