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Remote voting a work in progress: CEC Kumar

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday described the Election Commission’s proposal on remote voting as a “work in progress” saying it was not an easy subject and reaching decisions in a democracy takes time.

Responding to questions on the recent all-party consultations on remote voting, he said it was “successful” with representatives of recognised parties sitting through the entire day. The issue of 30 crore “missing voters” came to limelight.

He said urban voters, youth and domestic migrants form part of the 30 crore voters who did not participate in the last Lok Sabha elections.

“It is not an easy subject. Taking decision in a democracy takes time. But everyone agreed that this is an area where we need to work to bring all our voters, to the extent possible, to the booth (to cast vote)… it is a work in progress,” he said.

The CEC noted that on the demand of political parties, the deadline to respond to the EC’s concept note has been extended to February 28 from January 31.

At the meeting held on Monday, opposition parties had stayed away from the demonstration of prototype of remote electronic voting machine (RVM). They had also questioned the need for RVM, saying issues such as definition of migrants should first be cleared.

Each RVM can handle up to 72 constituencies, allowing migrant voters to cast their votes from a remote polling booth.

The commission has maintained that RVMs, developed by the public sector undertaking Electronics Corporation of India, will be a standalone device not connected to the internet in any way.

The initiative, if implemented, can lead to a “social transformation” for migrants, the EC had said last month.

In a letter to political parties last month, EC had said that domestic migrant/ internal migrant does not form a uniquely identifiable and countable class in the existing norms and standard definition.

“There is no central database available for migration within the country for the purpose as required for the matter under discussion (remote voting). The Registrar General of India, the Ministry of Labour and Employment and National Sample Survey Organisation lay different meanings to the term ‘migrant’,” it said.

“In the existing multiple meanings of ‘migrant’, periodicity and purpose of ‘absence from the place of origin lacks clarity. As per Census 2011, 45.36 Crore Indians (37 per cent) in India are migrants i.e., now settled in a place different from their previous residence, however, 75 per cent of such migrations are on account of marriages and family related reasons,” the letter said.

“It is also to be noted that internal out migration is predominant among the rural population and it is mostly intra-state (approximately 85 per cent),” it said.

In a recent statement on the issue, the poll panel had pointed out that the voter turnout in Lok Sabha elections 2019 was 67.4 per cent and the Election Commission was concerned about the issue of over 30 crore electors not exercising their franchise and also differential voter turnout in various states/Union Territories.

EC had also been flagging the issue of “urban apathy” where people do not turn up to vote in cities.


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