Remote voting demonstration postponed as Opposition parties express concern about EC proposal
The poll panel was to show a prototype of a remote electronic voting machine to representatives of eight national parties and 40 state parties on Monday.
The Election Commission on Monday put off the demonstration of how voting machines could be used to cast votes from a remote location as most political parties attending expressed their opposition to the proposal, The Indian Express reported.
At the meeting held in Delhi, the poll panel was slated to show a prototype of a remote electronic voting machine to representatives of eight national parties and 40 state parties. However, it did not conduct the demonstration as parties sought a more detailed discussion on the matter, unidentified officials told the newspaper.
The poll panel has said that the remote electronic voting machine has been developed to enable domestic migrants to vote in elections without having to travel to their home constituencies.
The Election Commission had earlier asked political parties to submit their opinions on the proposal in writing by January 31. On Monday, it extended the date till February 28.
Ahead of the meeting, the Congress had on Sunday called for a meeting of Opposition parties to discuss their concerns about the voting machines. After the meeting, party leader Digvijaya Singh said that most of them were not in favour of the poll panel’s proposal.
At the meeting on Monday, political parties agreed with the broader aim of improving voter turnouts, an unidentified Election Commission official said, according to the Hindustan Times. However, some parties demanded that the demonstration of the machines be carried out in states, while some demanded that the concept of domestic migrants should be defined, the official said.
With the exception of the Bharatiya Janata Party and, to an extent, the Biju Janata Dal, all political parties reportedly opposed the poll panel’s proposal. The BJP’s representative, Union minister Bhupender Yadav, said that the party agreed that “missing voters” should get a chance to exercise their franchise, but the procedure for ensuring this was a matter of discussion.
Congress MP Digvijaya Singh said that the poll panel’s concept note showed that it was confused. “No opposition party wants to see the demonstration of a remote voting machine,” he said, according to PTI. “First the issue of the need to have such a machine should be settled.”
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh also questioned the need for remote voting machines, saying that there were other ways to increase voter turnouts. “How will we campaign in different states among eligible migrant voters using RVM [remote voting machines]?” he asked. “When there is a bye poll on one seat, say Jalandhar, RVM is not acceptable.”
The Election Commission had said on December 29 that the remote electronic voting machines could be used for up to 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth. “The migrant voter would thus need not travel back to his/her home district to exercise his/her franchise of voting,” the poll panel had said in a press release.