STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: Stressing on the importance of ensuring greater “inclusiveness” in elections, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said remote voting should be such that it inspires trust of all stakeholders and assures integrity of electoral process and secrecy.Delivering the keynote address on a webinar on “Technology aspects of remote voting: Exploring Blockchain” on Monday, he also made it clear that the commission is not envisioning Internet-based voting from home.The remote voting project aspires for allowing voters residing in remote locations, away from their designated polling stations, to cast ballot in a secured fashion at a pre-designated place, an official statement said.He underlined the importance of ensuring greater “inclusiveness in elections” while noting that a large number of voters are unable to exercise their franchise due to geographical barriers.By virtue of occupation, education, medical treatment or other reasons, there have been instances of current residence of such electors being different from the place of registration in electoral rolls, he observed.Chandra, however, emphasised that in designing a technology-based solution, the primary consideration should be the ability to “inspire trust of all stakeholders, assure integrity of electoral process and secrecy and inviolability of ballot.”Political parties, he felt, need to be reassured that the system is tamper-proof and secure.Remote voting, Chandra said, marks a departure from a conventional polling station which was tied to a geographical location.He expressed optimism that deliberations among experts will help the commission in designing a robust remote voting model which is more inclusive and empowering.The initial idea for using blockchain-based voting solution emerged from an initial discussion of Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora during a visit to Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in October 2019.The event was organised by the EC, in partnership with Tamil Nadu e-governance agency.The webinar brought together technologists, academicians, policy practitioners, cyber security experts from India and around the world.The Election Commission has collaborated with IIT Madras to work on a new technology which will allow electors to vote from far away cities without going to the designated polling station of their respective constituencies.Then Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena had told PTI in February this year that the technology is a “two-way electronic voting system, in a controlled environment, on white-listed IP devices on dedicated Internet lines, enabled with biometric devices and a web camera.He had also made it clear that voters will have to reach a designated venue during a pre-decided period of time to be able to use this facility.Suppose there is a Lok Sabha election and a Chennai voter is in Delhi. Instead of returning to vote in his or her constituency or missing out on voting, the voter can reach a predesignated spot set up by the EC, say in Connaught Place, in a particular time window and can cast his vote.
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