Electoral Reforms In India

Remote EVM for Migrant Voters


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EVM

Mains level: Voting facilities for migrant workers


The Election Commission of India said that it has developed a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) which would enable remote voting by migrant voters.

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

  • Electronic voting is the standard means of conducting elections using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in India.
  • The system was developed and tested by the state-owned Electronics Corporation of India and Bharat Electronics in the 1990s.
  • They were introduced in Indian elections between 1998 and 2001, in a phased manner.

What are Remote EVMs?

  • Remote Electronic Voting Machines (RVM) can handle multiple constituencies from a single remote polling booth.
  • The idea is to implement voter portability as a pilot project in the upcoming Assembly elections in nine states in 2023.
  • This means that if the pilot is successful then in the 2024 general elections voter portability can be fully implemented.

Need for RVMs

  • Ensuring participative elections: The inability to vote due to internal migration is one of the prominent reasons to be addressed to improve voter turnout and ensure participative elections.
  • Migration-based disenfranchisement: There were multifarious reasons for a voter not opting to register in a new place of residence, thus missing out on exercising the right to vote.
  • Increasing voter turnout: The voter turnout in General Elections 2019 was 67.4% and the ECI is concerned about the issue of over 30 crore electors not exercising their franchise and also differential voter turnout in various States/UT.

Significance of the move

  • Panacea to migration-led deprivation: Out-migration due to the need to work, marriage, and education, is predominant among the rural population in overall domestic migration.
  • Increasing voter turnout: Approximately 85% of the internal migration is within the States.
  • Multiple booth targeting: This modified form of EVM can handle up to 72 multiple constituencies from a single remote polling booth.

Challenges for RVMs

Many political parties have already flagged the inherent issues such as-

  • Defining domestic migrants
  • Implementation of Model Code of Conduct
  • Ensuring secrecy of voting
  • Facility of polling agents for identification of voters
  • Process and method of remote voting and
  • Counting of votes

Technical issues

  • Amendment to legacy laws: Among the laws and rules which would need an amendment to implement remote voting is The Representation of People’s Act of 1950 and 1951, The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and The Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
  • Vagueness over Migration: The definition of migrant voter would also need to be reworked with respect to retaining registration at the original place in the context of the legal construct of “ordinary residence” and “temporary absence”.
  • Territorial constituency concept: The territorial constituency concept of remote voting and defining remoteness itself that is an outside constituency, outside the district or outside state will need to be dealt with.
  • Administrative challenges: These include enumerating remote voters-self declaration, ensuring secrecy of voting at remote locations, provision of polling agents at remote voting booths, and ensuring identification of voters to avoid impersonation.
  • Acceptance issues: Acceptance of EVMs has been a contested issues. This has somehow eased after the introduction of the voters-verifiable paper-audit trial (VVPAT).

Way forward

  • 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.
  • Frequently changing residences, not enough social and emotional connect with the issues of an area of migration will no longer remain obstacles.


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