Securing the migrant vote

Source– The post is based on the article “Securing the migrant vote” published in “The Hindu” on 10th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act

Relevance– Voting issues related to migrants

News– Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies conducted a study between April 28 and May 1 among the migrant voters of Bengaluru to find out their voting patterns.

What were the main findings of the study in the localities of migrant workers from north and north-east ?

Nearly 99% of them were not registered as voters in Karnataka. Most of these workers who live in houses near power mills or in makeshift arrangements near construction sites continued to retain their names on the voter lists of their home constituencies.

Some of them were not able to adequately exercise their political voting rights due to geographical constraints. They found it difficult to travel home for every election.

There were fewer than 5% of migrants whose families were living with them. They were concerned that their localities were not safe for women.

There was little awareness among the migrant workers about the ECI’s proposal to introduce RVMs. 80% of them supported the proposal when they were told about it. They were happy that RVMs would enable them to vote there.

Less than 10% expressed their apprehensions about this mode of voting. Many voiced their concerns and anxieties about the system’s accuracy.

Despite the difficulties involved in casting their vote, the respondents greatly valued their voting rights. They said it was their duty and responsibility to vote as citizens of the country. They also said that voting is important in a democracy.

The migrants said none of them had ever received money or goods or services from any candidates or parties in exchange for their vote. They said they travelled back to their home States without any support or expectations.

The study also indicated the involuntary choices that migrant workers have to make in order to maintain a minimum standard of living.

Many of the migrant workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam, said low and irregular wages and lack of opportunities in their home States were reasons for their migration without their families.

They were happy to move to their home States if they were offered comparatively lower pay. The most popular reason for this was to be closer to home and to their families and fewer expenses.

Migrant workers are often apprehensive about registering themselves as voters in any other State apart from their home State. This is due to various reasons such as frequent changes in residence, fear of losing property in their home State.

What is the scenario of the use of Remote Voting Machines by migrants?

The Election Commission of India has proposed it. It seeks to extend voting facilities to such migrant workers who find it difficult to travel to their native place to vote.

Some political parties objected to RVMs. As per them, ECI has not responded to pending complaints and questions about the trustworthiness of Electronic Voting Machines.

RVM initiative is much-needed, but it requires an additional push. It needs more thought and greater transparency.

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