BJP moves EC, seeks two-way e-voting for servicemen

The BJP on Tuesday urged the Election Commission to introduce a two-way electronic voting process for armed forces personnel, saying response to e-ballot facility in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa assembly polls this year was “sub-optimal”.

A Bharatiya Janata Party delegation, including J.P. Nadda, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Bhupender Yadav, and Arun Singh submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission and sought adequate legal and administrative provisions to ensure electronic casting of votes.

The party said there was an urgent need to take steps to create awareness on e-ballot among the armed forces.

It said the poll panel had agreed to introduce one-way electronic balloting for service personnel following a party representation and consequently the conduct of Election Rules of 1961 were amended in 2016.

“The e-ballot facility extended to service personnel was introduced in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa assembly elections in February 2017 but the voter response was sub-optimal. The reasons could be many, including non-availability of computers in remote locations, or inadequate propagation at the unit level,” the BJP said.

It said according to the present provisions, the electronic ballot papers are transmitted through the Web and the votes cast were then sent to the respective returning officers through regular postal service.

“Instead of only one way, the commission may introduce a two-way electronic voting process,” the party said.

The BJP said legal and administrative provisions for electronic submission of votes would ensure that service personnel, wherever deployed, were able to cast votes without delay.

“This will vastly improve participation of a sizeable population of the country guarding our borders in the democratic processes,” the party said.

It urged the poll panel to explore ways for acknowledgment of e-ballot as was with voter verified paper audit trail.

“We request the Election Commission devise ways in consultation with the three service chiefs to ensure that defence personnel who wish to exercise their franchise are able to do so.”

It urged the commission to ensure that personnel have immediate access to electronically transmitted ballot and timely submission of votes to returning officers.

“We request that immediate steps for awareness, sensitisation, and training are taken in view of elections due this year and early next year,” the party said.

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