Congress opposes remote voting for migrant workers, calls for restoring trust in electoral system

Jairam Ramesh alleged that the Election Commission delayed the announcement of the election schedule in Gujarat to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi more time for electioneering in his home State

Updated - December 30, 2022 10:32 pm IST

Published - December 29, 2022 06:33 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called on the Election Commission to “restore trust in the electoral system with transparency and via honest engagement with the Opposition’s concerns”.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called on the Election Commission to “restore trust in the electoral system with transparency and via honest engagement with the Opposition’s concerns”. | Photo Credit: PTI

Opposing the Election Commission's proposal for a remote voting system for migrant workers, the Congress on Thursday said the move could seriously “undermine trust in the electoral system”.

In a strongly worded statement, Congress general secretary for communication Jairam Ramesh said the EC should “restore trust in the electoral system with transparency and via honest engagement with the Opposition’s concerns”.

On Thursday, the EC had said that it has developed a prototype multi-constituency remote electronic voting machine for domestic migrant voters and has invited political parties for a demonstration on January 16. Political parties have also been asked to make their written submissions by January 31, 2023.

Also Read | EC to set up committee to scale up voting by migrant workers

“Trust in the electoral system is paramount for democracy to function. The German Federal Constitutional Court struck down electronic voting machines [EVMs] in Germany in 2009 because the opacity of the machine cannot give a voter the confidence that his or her vote is being correctly recorded. In spite of their widespread use, EVMs have aroused much controversy in India. Unfortunately, fears of their misuse have not been systematically addressed,” Mr. Ramesh said in the statement.

“Voters and parties must have confidence in the electoral system. However, this trust has been repeatedly violated in recent years on account of pressures being put on the Election Commission of India by the Modi government,” he added.

Mr. Ramesh alleged that the EC had delayed the announcement of the election schedule in Gujarat to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi more time for electioneering in his home State.

“It also gave him yet another free pass to violate the model code of conduct by allowing a road show on voting day in Gujarat,” he said, adding that the poll panel ignored representations made by the Congress on issue after issue.

“In Gujarat this time we also saw suspicious voting numbers which showed that 10-12% of voters cast their votes in the last hour of voting. This translates to an impossible 25-30 seconds being taken to cast each vote. You need a minimum of 60 seconds to cast a vote,” he said, adding, ”Now imagine if these suspicious patterns can be extended via a multi-constituency voting machine to other locations. This would seriously undermine trust in the system.”

The Congress leader added that constructive suggestions like expanding the number of booths in which Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips are counted have not yet been accepted.

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