SEC not for e-voting for NoRKs in local body polls

The State Election Commission (SEC) has expressed its inability to introduce e-ballot or e-voting for Non-Resident Keralites (NoRKs) settled overseas in the ensuing local self-government elections.

In response to a letter from the State government seeking its opinion on introducing the facility, the State Election Commissioner said the Commission would make arrangements for NoRKs to cast their votes as per the system introduced by the Central Election Commission (CEC). The issue of introducing an alternative voting system for Non-Resident Indians is pending before the Supreme Court and the verdict would be quite significant, an official release issued by the commission said here on Friday.

The newly elected committees of local self-government institutions should assume office on November 1. Introducing e-ballot or e-voting within the limited time ahead in a foolproof manner was not feasible. Elections are scheduled to be held to 22,000 wards and it would have about 1 lakh candidates. This is a very complex process.

Putting in place a mechanism to provide the ballots of each segment to the voters abroad and also facilitating to cast their votes online was not a feasible option within the next two months. Owning to the delay in forming new grama panchayats, municipalities and Corporation, the delimitation of wards could not be completed within the stipulated time. After completing the delimitation of wards, the commission has to integrate the voters’ list with the new wards and publish it. New polling booths too would have to be set up. Since the State Election Commissioner is also the head of the Delimitation Commission, it is totally involved in such tasks at present.

Moreover, only a preliminary notification restructuring the 152 block panchayats has been published so far. The government would have to publish the final notification and fix the number of members in each block panchayat and publish the final notification. Only then can the commission go ahead with the delimitation of blocks. After that the commission would take up the delimitation of district panchayats, and then go ahead with the election notification.

Amendments are also needed to the Kerala Panchayati Raj and Kerala Municipalities Act to introduce the new voting system. Discussions with stakeholders are needed before going in for such amendments. Majority of the NoRKs abroad are not computer-savvy and are employed under sponsors.

The commission is bound to ensure that such sections are capable of casting votes on their own.

Their voting rights should not be misused and the technology should have such safeguards. In this context, it would not be feasible to introduce the new system, the commission said.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 6:58:01 PM |

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