16 Opposition parties object to EC’s remote voting machine plan | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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16 Opposition parties object to EC’s remote voting machine plan

ByAnish Yande
Jan 15, 2023 11:54 PM IST

Currently, a voter has to physically travel to the district where they are a registered elector in order to cast their vote, but if the new initiative is implemented, migrant voters will not be required to travel to their home district to exercise their franchise.

Sixteen opposition parties on Sunday said they will oppose the Election Commission’s multi-constituency remote electronic voting machine (RVM) for domestic migrants, a development that came a day before the poll watchdog was to demonstrate a prototype of the system it said could boost voter participation.

The Election Commission made the proposal in a letter to several political parties on December 28, asking them to attend a demonstration of the prototype RVM on January 16, and forward their comments by January 31, 2023. (PTI)
The Election Commission made the proposal in a letter to several political parties on December 28, asking them to attend a demonstration of the prototype RVM on January 16, and forward their comments by January 31, 2023. (PTI)

Currently, a voter has to physically travel to the district where they are a registered elector in order to cast their vote, but if the new initiative is implemented, migrant voters will not be required to travel to their home district to exercise their franchise.

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“The overall view of all political parties who attended the meet is that they unanimously opposed the proposal of RVM as it’s still very sketchy. It is not concrete in nature and there are huge political anomalies and problems in the proposal such as the definition and number of migrant workers not being clear. We have made up our minds to oppose the proposal of RVM,” said Congress leader Digvijaya Singh after the all-party meeting in New Delhi.

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The Election Commission made the proposal in a letter to several political parties on December 28, asking them to attend a demonstration of the prototype RVM on January 16, and forward their comments by January 31, 2023.

After the meeting at the Constitution Club in the national capital, Singh said that the participating opposition parties decided that EC’s response to questions raised by the parties at Monday’s meeting will be collectively considered and the Opposition will take a joint stand on the issue.

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Singh made the remarks after the meeting that was attended by leaders of the Congress, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Indian Union Muslim League and Revolutionary Socialist Party among others.

“We are extremely grateful to all the political parties who have responded to our requests to meet and discuss about the proposal of EC… Nationalist Congress Party and Samajwadi Party have also conveyed their views to me,” the Congress leader said.

“We have been asked to give our reply by January 31, so we have decided to meet again on January 25 to send our reply jointly or separately but our clear mandate and view is that we don’t support RVM,” he added.

On the Trinamool Congress’s absence, Singh said they were not yet aware of the stand of the party but will discuss it at a later date. On the SP and NCP’s absence, he said Akhilesh Yadav and Sharad Pawar expressed their solidarity with the meeting and that they want to get full clarity on RVM.

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal also attended the meeting in an individual capacity.

Other parties who joined the meeting are the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, the Kerala Congress, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.

In a statement in December last year, ECI said it “explored the option of using a modified version of the time-tested model of M3 (Mark 3) EVMs to enable voting at remote polling stations i.e. polling stations outside home constituency, for domestic migrants”. “The migrant voter would thus need not travel back to his/her home district to exercise his/her franchise of voting.”

The commission — comprising chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar and election commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel — invited eight recognised national parties and 57 regional parties on January 16 for a demonstration and feedback.

“The initiative, if implemented, can lead to a social transformation for the migrants and connect with their roots as many times they are reluctant to get themselves enrolled at their place of work for various reasons such as frequently changing residences, not enough social and emotional connect with the issues of area of migration, unwillingness to get their name deleted in electoral roll of their home/native constituencies as they have permanent residence/property,” the statement said.

Kumar said the idea was to address the causes behind low voter turnouts such as urban and youth apathy, and remote voting. “The commission has already begun programmes to address urban and youth apathy. This (prototype) will now target domestic migrants,” he said.

This modified EVM can handle up to 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth, likely to be called a state polling booth. The voting will happen over standalone EVMs, same as the ones used during polls, said an official.

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