Why denying online voting option is equivalent to denying right to vote?


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More than 33% of the Indian population or roughly 33 crore voters would not be able to vote in Indian Lok Sabha Election 2024 due to lack of online voting option. The winning party in the Indian Lok Sabha Election 2024 will win less than 33 crore votes in aggregate across all the Lok Sabha constituency. Which means that absence of these voters or denial of voting rights to these voters will have a huge impact on the elections and the result of the elections can be very different if these voters are provided their right to vote.

Denying right to vote online or eVoting is unfair to the citizens and it makes our Indian democracy a weak democracy. For a democratic country like India, it is very essential that each individual citizen gets his right to vote.

Voter Turnout

The most fundamental yard stick of any election is what percentage of voters have been able to participate of cast their vote. If the voter turnout number is low that means the democracy is weak. It means there are sections of population which are being denied the right to vote which has been guaranteed by the constitution.

Suppose a country which does not allow the female citizens in the country to vote, will you can that country is having a strong democracy? Or a country which does not allow members of a minority religious faith to vote, will you consider it an effective democracy? Or a country which denies right to vote based on colour of skin, ethnicity, caste or some other parameter? What about a country which is denying right to vote to 33% of its population majorly compromising of national and international migrants, armed forces, doctors, transport sector workers, essential service providers, police force etc.?

Voter apathy is the commonly used excuse by the Election Commission of India and politicians for low voter turnout. But in reality, they are trying to hide their own deficiency or lack of sensitiveness by hiding behind this term. These is a large section of population which actually wants to vote, but not able to vote due to booth-based voting system where a voter has to be present at one specific booth during a specific 8-hour slot to vote.

Following sections of the population is not able to vote due to lack of online voting options

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs): These voters are spread across the world. They are Indian citizen living in other countries for work or other reason but maintaining their Indian citizenship. Is it fair to expect them to fly down to India to vote? In the process spend in excess of 50,000 rupee and 3-4 days, just to vote?

Domestic migrants: A huge population of Indian citizens migrate to nearby cities from villages, to other cities, to other states for reasons like livelihood, education, marriage etc. Many of these migrants earn Rs. 100-500 per day. Is it fair to expect them to travel back to their village / town on the election date to vote? In the process spend more than thousand rupee and lose 3-4 days of wages? Should students leave their exams and travel back to their home town just for voting?

Armed forces: Armed forces are posted at different locations in the country, generally difficult border location at short notice and for limited time. It is not possible for them to keep changing their registered address for voting. Postal ballot is too slow and bureaucratic hence almost a non-real option. Should they leave their post and return back to their home town just to vote?

Doctors: Doctors have to look after the patients. It can be matter of life and death. Can we expect doctors to leave the hospitals and the patients and waste hours standing in queue to vote. All the doctors of the region are supposed to vote on the same day. It is not that half of them can vote today and the other half can vote day after. Is it fair to ask doctors to leave their patients and spend two three hours in the voting process including travelling to booth, standing in queue and travelling back? Can we announce holiday for doctors like we announce for rest of the people?

Old people, patients, pregnant women: Is it fair to ask old people who can barely walk, or patients bed ridden due to some disease or pregnant women to travel to booth and stand in a queue to vote?

Policeman: On election days, the policeman has to work round the clock to maintain law and order in the area. Can we give them a leave to go and stand in a queue to vote?

Journalists:On election days, the journalists are working round the clock to get the news to us. Can we afford to give them off on election date to stand in a queue to vote?

Essential service providers: There are medical shop owners and workers, train operators, local train drivers, taxi drivers, auto drivers, rikshaw drivers, bus drivers, pilots, air hostess, kirana shop owners and workers. Can we give holiday to these essential service providers on election day? How will the voters commute to election booth if all the taxi drivers, auto drivers, local train drivers, metro drivers take an off on the election day?

This is not all. There is a long list – Daily wage earners, Women with infants to look after to, employees on assignments to other locations, consultants, marketing executives, students preparing for competitive exams, sportspersons representing their country / state / city, actors and production crew on out station movie location. There are hundreds of different professions who are denied holiday on the election day. There are hundreds of different situations where a person cannot afford to spare two – three hours for voting. Is it voter apathy or Election Commission of India’s apathy?

Conclusion

It is high time that Election Commission of India provides the voters the option of online voting. If something can be done in 2 minutes why make a person spend 2 hours to do the same and then blame them with terms like “voter apathy”? We can bet that if online voting is allowed, voter turnout would increase from around 66% to 90% plus. An additional 24 crore+ voters would be able to vote if online voting is allowed. Denying them online voting is equivalent to denying them right to vote.

We at Right2Vote have the technology ready, certified by Government of India for security and quality. It is ECI’s, parliament’s and Court’s apathy, if the politicians, courts and the Election Commission of India do not want to use technology to ensure right to vote for all citizens.

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