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Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM)

In News: Election Commission (EC) has developed a prototype of a remote electronic voting machine (RVM) for domestic migrant voters.

Need for Remote Voting

  • Stagnation in voter turnout: About 30 crore electors were not exercising their franchise, apart from differential voter turnout in different states and UTs.
  • Migration-based disenfranchisement: As per the 2011 census, there are nearly 45.36 crore migrants in India– amounting to approximately 37 per cent of the country’s population.
  • Against EC’s “No voter left behind” goal: Large population is denied its franchise due to exigencies of work or lack of resources to travel.

About Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM)

  • Aim: Improve voter turnout and ensure the participation of migrants in elections.
  • It will use a Multi-Constituency RVM for migrant voting, i.e it would cater to voters from multiple constituencies of a state.
  • It is developed by a public sector undertaking: Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).
  • It can handle up to 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth.
  • It will have the same security system and voting experience as the EVM.
Remote Electronic Voting Machine
Remote Electronic Voting Machine

Features of RVM

  • It is a standalone, non-networked system having the same security features as the existing Indian EVMs and provides the same voting experience to the voter as the EVM.
  • The RVM system is essentially a modified version of the existing EVM system.
  • A single Ballot Unit (BU) can cater to multiple AC/ PCs at a single polling station by using a dynamic ballot display instead of the usually printed paper ballot sheet on BU.

Process of Remote Voting using RVM

  • The voter should pre-register for the remote voting facility by applying online/offline within a pre-notified time, before elections in his/her home constituency commence.
  • Voter details will be verified at the home constituency and the voter’s request for remote voting will be approved after successful verification by marking him/her as a remote voter to participate in elections.
  • Special multi-constituency remote voting polling stations will be set up in the places of the voter’s current residence.

Significance of RVM

  • Increasing voters’ participation: It will enable a voter, who is listed in constituencies, to exercise voting rights from a single machine.
  • Ease of Voting: Migrant voters need not travel to their home district to exercise their voting rights.
  • Vibrant Democracy: It will enable approximately 30 crore electors, currently not exercising their franchise, to vote.
  • Safety and Security: Remote e-voting machine will be a standalone device which doesn’t need connectivity to operate.

Concerns with RVM

  • Inclusive definition of migrants: Migrants are not a uniform and defined class, with fluid identities, locations and situations.
  • Trust Issue: Various countries have already rejected EVMs for paper-based ballots.
  • Hacking Probability: RVMs with more technological components are bound to raise further questions.
  • Lack of Level Playing Field: Remote voting can theoretically provide an added edge to bigger parties and richer candidates who can campaign across the constituency and beyond.
  • Model Code of Conduct: There is no clarity about how Model Code of Conduct will be implemented in the remote constituencies.

About EVM or Electronic Voting Machines

  • They are used to cast vote without revealing identity.
  • They replaced paper ballots in local, state and general (parliamentary) elections in India.
  • Indian EVMs are standalone (not connected to the internet) and have a one-time programmable chip, making tampering through the hardware port or through a Wi-Fi connection impossible.
  • Voter Verified Paper Trail Audit (VVPAT) machine: To help verify that the EVM had recorded the vote correctly as intended by the voter.

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Election Commission (EC) has developed a prototype of a remote electronic voting machine (RVM) for which voters?

Election Commission (EC) has developed a prototype of a remote electronic voting machine (RVM) for domestic migrant voters.

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