Trinamul Congress has opposed the Election Commission of India’s proposal to institutionalise remote voting as the party felt that a hasty decision in the matter will have “potentially damaging effects.” Trinamul Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee wrote a letter to BC Patra, secretary, Election Commission of India raising the objection.
He felt that institutionalization of remote voting in haste would affect the sanctity of the election process and hence, opposed the proposal. He maintained that in case of “remote voting” it would be difficult to define the “domestic migrants” and raised questions regarding the transparency and sanctity of the entire election process. Mr Banerjee said the first major concern was the implementation of the model code of conduct (MCC) and the strict monitoring of this. Considering that the migrant voter is residing in a state where no election is on, there is possibility of manipulation by different political parties in the absence of the MCC, he observed.
Secondly, in order to sway the voters, the ruling party in the said state could use coercive measures, not evident to the voting process and hamper free and fair elections. Thirdly, the security of the EVMs used in the process of remote voting has a chance of running into vulnerability, considering the law and order in the away states would still be under the control of the state government and not in the hands of the ECI.
Thus, the ultimate results could be tainted with a bias. The possibilities to enable block chain technology for remote voting had faced resistance due to the potential security vulnerabilities. Mr Banerjee further maintained that by virtue of being geographically distanced from the state where elections were being held, the said voter would be disengaged from the specific political underpinnings that inform his or her constituency and might thereby skew his or her opinion.
He further pointed out that remote voting would also require the dissemination of election paraphernalia electronically, which would ultimately not reach those domestic migrants who lack smartphones or computers or a functional internet connection. As a result, their ability to make an informed choice would be significantly reduced, further deepening the digital divide. He felt that “our democracy cannot be toyed with for the narrow interests of a powerful and moneyed few.”