Online voting is not allowed in Lok Sabha Election 2024 – WHY?


In 2015, we started Right2Vote with the mission to upgrade elections in India to internet based online voting, where citizens can vote directly from their mobile from anywhere. No need to travel to booth and no need to stand in queue. The vision was to ensure that no voter is denied his right to vote and hence the name Right2Vote.
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Since 2015, Right2Vote team has been meeting and convincing Election Commission of India, various
state election commissions and Politicians to upgrade to online voting so that people who are not
able to vote due to inability to travel to booth are also able to vote. However, it’s been 9 years and
we are still not successful. We receive thousands of calls and emails specially during election season
from across the country and abroad from citizens asking for online voting facility. Whenever we tell
them that online voting is not allowed in government elections in India, we get a standard
bewildered response – BUT WHY?

For online voting to happen, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has to take the initiative,
Parliament has to vote and approve it and Supreme court and to confirm it. Hence this question is
best answered by:
a. Election Commission of India (ECI),
b. Parliament of India including the Prime Minister and other Members of Parliament (MP)
c. Supreme Court of India (SCI)

Till date they have always avoided this question and never given a straight answer. They always duck
the answer and shift the onus of answer to the other party. ECI will say that parliament has to
decide, MPs will say that ECI need to take the initiative and SCI need to approve, while SCI will ask
the government and ECI to respond whenever a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is filed seeking right to
vote online.

In absence of their direct answer, we will try to explain the real reason based on our interaction with
election commission, bureaucrats, politicians, journalist, NGOs and other influential people.


Fear of Technology

To be fair to Election Commission of India (ECI), they have from time-to-time initiated studies on
election technology in other countries (How the world votes), and has also requested political
parties for their opinion on online voting. Only BJP has supported the idea of online voting. Most
other parties have either opposed the idea or have not given their opinion.

Why do political parties oppose online voting? It is a standard practice of politicians to blame the
system for the election loss. Politicians blame the EVM machines for election manipulation by party
in power. Many of them demand going back to paper based voting with all the hassles of manual
counting, ballot paper printing, marking errors, frauds ballot printing etc.

Why opposition politicians do not support Online Voting over paper voting?

  • They have taken the stand against (Electronic Voting Machines) EVMs that it can be hacked.
    ECI has given a justification that these EVMs are not connected to internet and hence it
    cannot be hacked. Now, if they support online voting it would sound contradictory. Hence,
    they want to go back to primitive method were no electronic or internet is used.
  • Most of the politicians are not well educated specially when it comes to technology. Every
    day they are using internet enabled mobile phones and WhatsApp for all their confidential
    communication but still fear internet enabled technology. It is difficult to make them
    understand that the stock market, the banking system, the air traffic control, the power
    system and almost all critical day to day infrastructure is today connected to internet.
    Avoiding internet would means taking India back to the 18 th century. They are not able to
    understand that paper-based voting is too human dependent and such human dependent
    systems can be easily hacked / manipulated just by influencing / bribing / threatening few of
    the millions of people involved in election management. Booth capturing, ballot box
    switching, multiple voting is all kind of election hacking / manipulation which forced the
    election commission to upgrade to EVM.


Excuse of Secret Ballot and Coercion

The most common excuse against online voting / mobile voting / eVoting or internet based remote
voting is that it will compromise on secret ballot. Booth based voting provides the voter the privacy
of voting without anybody peeping over their shoulders. People fear that if online voting is allowed,
the bahubalis (muscleman) will line up the voters in front of them and will force them to vote in
their favour. Voter will have no privacy and hence he would be forced to vote against his free will.
However, this is not a correct argument due to following reasons:

  • Online voting technology software like Right2Vote offers various technology to guard against
    peeping politicians. We can capture the voter video while he is voting. The system can
    capture if anybody else is there with the voter to influence him. Right2Vote also provide
    other security feature like Aadhar based biometric authentication to ensure only the voter is
    voting. There is geo tagging and geo fencing feature to ensure that people are not forced to
    go to areas where they are not comfortable like premises of the politician.
  • It is not practically feasible for politicians to visit each and every voter and ensure they vote
    in front of them under their influence. Limited voting window will make it impossible for
    them to influence more than few dozens of votes. By the time the politician would visit the
    voter’s home, the voter would have already voted.
  • Coercion is a law-and-order issue, election commission can command the local police to
    ensure anybody trying to coerce voters are put behind bars.
  • 33% of the country is denied their right to vote due to inability to travel to booth to vote.
    Compared to that people who can be coerced into voting against their will is too small and in
    limited sensitive areas. In those areas we can avoid introducing online voting to start with.
    Anyway, postal voting is used for voting of soldiers, people on election duty, elderly etc.
    Postal voting is also remote voting and it is happening withing complaints of lack of secret
    ballot or coercion for years. If nothing else, eVoting can start for this segment of population.
  • Online Voting can initially start with internet-based screens at secured booths. This will
    ensure voters get the privacy of a booth but also enable voters who are staying in different
    district to also vote. A Kashmiri pandit from J&K staying in Kerela would be able to vote by
    going to the nearest election booth set up by the election commission.


Vested Interest – Power, Money, Current system working for them

Power: For Election Commission of India (ECI) elections are a very powerful event where even the
prime minister of the country has to fold hands in front of them. They get to spend thousands of
crores on election management from buying EVM machines, to building booths, to logistics to
security. They get to command millions of election workers, they can command the army for
election duty, they can transfer bureaucrats at will. During these 80 days they are the most powerful
organization in the country.

If election is held in 3 days with less than 1/10 th the budget with few handfuls of support staff they
will lose all the power which comes with this post.

Money: India spends more than Rs. 30,000 Crore for each Lok Sabha Election. When that kind of
money is spent anybody and everybody in the chain benefits. If elections are held at a fraction of
cost, the people who make money in the process would lose their livelihood. Hence such people will
always oppose any better cost-effective system.

Current system working for them: The party in power is in power because the current election
system is working for them. The party in power has the maximum MPs in the parliament and hence
have the biggest say in whether to upgrade to online voting or not. However, nobody wants to
change something that is working for them. Same works for each and every MP. They have won the
election in booth-based voting system. They do not want to change that and risk their winnability.
They know who will vote and who will not vote. These politicians and political parties have mastered
the art of booth management, incentivizing voters to travel to booth and vote. The current system
makes it impossible for a common man who does not have the financial capability to bribe the voter
to travel to a booth and stand in a queue to stand and win an election. Online voting will disrupt all
their standard systems and empower the common man to stand in elections against rich politicians.
Hence, they also have vested interest to maintain the status quo.


Inertia or Lack of Initiative

Generally, a very senior bureaucrat is appointed as the Election Commissioner of India. Generally,
appointment age is in excess of 60 and retirement age is 65. Hence the total time they get on the
chair is so limited that it is very difficult to take a big initiative like upgrade to online voting. Secondly
at as people grow old, willingness to initiate change reduces. But most importantly, very old people
themselves are not very technologically savvy. Hence, they avoid pro-technology initiative. The lack
of technology understanding make them fear that they will not be able to defend their decision
which would be challenged by politicians, journalists, citizens and courts.
Electing is such a sensitive matter that every change is challenged by politicians and others. This
creates an inertia against change. As everybody know that each change would be challenged and
resisted by politicians. Matter will be taken to the courts, which would take its own sweet time to
decide. Hence ECI avoid taking initiatives towards online voting.


Intention to Deny Right to Vote

One of the major reasons why politicians do not support online voting is because they want to be in
physical touch with the voters. Online voting would enable voters to vote from anywhere. A Uttar
Pradesh labourer working in Delhi would be able to vote in UP elections. A college student from
Orrisa studying in Kota would be able to vote in Orrisa elections. A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) from
Kerela working in UAE would be able to vote in Kerela elections. This makes the politicians
uncomfortable. First, they are used to do caste-based politics. Voters who have moved to other
cities for work or education and exposed to cosmopolitan environment, generally are not that
susceptible to caste-based politics. Second, local politician would not be able to meet the voter in
person. That makes them uncomfortable. They can’t bribe them to vote in their favour.
Most politicians do not want voters staying elsewhere to vote. As this reduces their influence and
hence power.


We Don’t Fight for Our Right to Vote

The biggest reason why upgrade to online voting is not happening because as citizens we are not
forcing the politicians, bureaucrats, courts to make it happen. If the citizens demand it, politicians
would be forced to provide online voting option. There have been few PIL by NRI voters but that is
not enough. When politicians come to us asking for our vote, we should tell them that we will vote
only when online voting option is provided. Instead of asking for liquor and chicken we should ask
for the convenience of voting from anywhere within seconds.
Migrants inside the country and outside have to take the lead. If we don’t fight for our right to vote,
we will not get our right to vote.


To know more about Right2Vote’s election technology, please refer: