If things go as planned, each Indian voter will soon be able to get an option to vote online
Taru Bhatia | February 25, 2016 | New Delhi
The election commission of India (ECI) is exploring the use of information technology in the voting process, as stated by the chief election commissioner, Nasim Zaidi, at an international seminar organised by ECI on Tuesday, titled ‘leveraging technology for transparent and credible elections’.
Gujarat government is the first and only state that has introduced e-voting facility to its citizens.
Moreover, he mentioned that to facilitate overseas Indians voters, the ECI is also developing an e-postal ballot facility. “We have recommended legislation on providing this facility. A safe technology has also been developed along with operational guidelines. The technology is being validated and tested currently,” Zaidi said.
ECI has set several digital goals to make electoral process in the country more integrated and transparent. These goals are part of e-governance vision 2020. Zaidi mentioned the key areas where focus would be -- to develop a national database that would serve all election-related information, to link each voter to information technology tools such as internet, smart phones, IVRS and SMS, to employ mobile technology for voting and grassroots work, to encourage the use of biometric GPRS-enabled handheld device to initiate doorstep electoral services and to develop a voice-based voting mechanism.
Addressing the challenges that come along with this technology, Zaidi said, “Employing internet voting or online voting may be explored by ECI in the long term though it will require serious consideration of the challenges posed by technology. We have to weigh between perceived and actual benefits with perceived and actual challenges associated with online voting. Security, secrecy of voting with encryption and end to end verification of voter are some of the most important considerations”.
Hence having a secure infrastructure is sacrosanct for the goal to be a success. “The biggest challenge in using information and communication technology (ICT) is ICT security, certification and third party auditing. No electoral democracy can afford to have a technology that fails at its simplest and can be manipulated or subjected to malpractices. This can demolish the credibility of elections,” Zaidi said.
Sharing the achievements of the ECI over deploying the technology, Zaidi said that 38 IT applications have been developed and innovated at state and district levels. These applications have been categorised into providing services to voters, political parties, core election management with transparency and information sharing.
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