Are the citizens of India increasingly not wanting to participate in elections, the best festival of Indian democracy?
At least the information of the Election Commission says so.
The 2019 general elections and subsequent state elections have seen a gradual decline in voter turnout in each case.
Before the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Election Commission had entered into an agreement with various private organizations so that people working in those organizations would not show reluctance to vote.
The Election Commission is also directed to publish a list of those workers who will not participate in the election.
The opposition alleged that this arrangement is a ‘compulsory’ voting process. In a democracy, a person can choose not to vote for various reasons, so can a person be forced to vote?
Even though the Election Commission seems has gone one step back then, it has not moved away from their statement that the voting rate is gradually decreasing.
The Commission is also trying to find out what is the reason for the reluctance among the Indian ‘voters’, and what steps can be taken to increase the voting rate.
According to their data, average voter turnout in Indian elections is 65 percent. Although more or less this way and that, the turnout rate has been seen roughly like this.
According to the Election Commission, one of the reasons for this is that migrant workers, who move from one state to another for work, are usually absent during polling in their own state.
According to a 2017 Economic Survey, the number of these migrant workers has been increasing over the past two decades.
According to the survey, this number is roughly between fourteen and forty crores. The large number of people we saw walking back due to train-bus closures during Covid lends credence to this study.
Basically these migrant workers cannot participate in the elections.
Elections are held at different times in different states, the organizations in which they work do not want to give leave, even if they get leave, the cost of travel is very high, so these workers spend not feel motivated to go to vote spending money.
So that they can participate in the next general elections, the Election Commission has proposed a ‘remote voting’ system this time.
How can voting be done remotely from home with this technology? Representatives of all political parties have been called by the Election Commission to explain it.
There have already been differences of opinion on the subject. Left parties and RJD have said that they will take a decision only after seeing this technology.
Congress, DMK, Trinamool Congress and several other parties have directly opposed this technology-based election system, while some parties like Telugu Desam have supported this ‘remote’ voting.
Several questions, however, have already arisen. When an opposition MP raised a question in the country’s Supreme Court or Parliament about how many migrant workers had died during Covid, the government said they did not have any information in this regard.
After that, why is the government so worried about the migrant workers participating in the elections?
How can the Election Commission insist that democracy will be strengthened if the electoral participation of migrant workers increases?
The commission has said that they have such technology that a remote electronic voting machine can be installed in a polling booth to conduct voting in 72 assemblies.
Thus, if only seven such booths are constructed in the next general elections, the participation of migrant workers in the elections across the country can be ensured.
Some countries have conducted elections in this manner, the most discussed being the 2019 election in Moscow’s City Duma amid the Covid situation in Russia.
Although the court there dismissed all of the opposition’s claims, the questions are still significant.
First of all, it has been said, whether the real voter is voting or not, how can he be known in this way? That means those who are not electors, their names can also appear in the voter list.
Secondly, where is the guarantee that a voter can cast his vote without any fear?
Third, what if not everyone can be equally adept at using the Internet? If this question arises in the case of Russia, the implications for India can be easily imagined.
In the end, the most important thing that comes up is that if elections are held with such technology-based devices, the Election Commission has no control over it, only some technicians, who can operate these devices from a distance. These questions are also relevant for our country.
Even in the past few years, the autonomy and independence of the Election Commission have been questioned time and again, and with good reason.
In the past few years, we have examples of the ruling party favoring the BJP in the work of the Election Commission.
In the recently concluded Gujarat assembly elections, when the country’s home minister said that the 2002 Gujarat massacre had taught the rioters a ‘proper lesson’, the Election Commission did not raise any objections, instead saying that there was no violation of the election’s ‘code of conduct’.
EVMs are still not out of the questions. Despite repeated appeals by the opposition over the VVPAT count, the Election Commission has yet to heed it, and there is no indication that it will do so in the future.
After that new technology, new type of voting system ‘remote’ electronic voting machine how much can satisfy opposition parties to see.
But not only if the opposition parties are satisfied, Every voter is important in a democracy.
Is it not the responsibility of the Election Commission to satisfy those who vote on ‘Nota’?