Even as tenders have been invited for creating the online portal and supporting data systems to enable e-voting in the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in February next year, the process will be finalised only after citizens give their go-ahead.
The State Election Commission’s (SEC) plan to introduce e-voting met with some reservations because of which the mega experiment will be first carried out on a demo basis before seeking public opinion on taking it forward.
While the e-voting option is aimed at youngsters and those who do not step out of their offices or homes or are unable to go to the polling booth, officials admitted the plan might not yield the desired results. To get oneself registered for e-voting, the citizen has to go to a registration centre where he/she will be given a log-in ID and password that can be used on the day of the polls. “If people have to make the effort of standing in queues at the registration centres, the convenience factor does not remain that strong,” said a BMC election official.
The SEC hopes to introduce the option of online voting in the 10 municipal bodies that go to polls next year. However, it has still not zeroed in on the way to do it. SEC Additional Secretary Chand Goel said online voting can be done through computers/laptops, mobile phones, landline and e-kiosks at various public places such as malls, banks, railway stations, bus depots etc. “We are working out the details at present and are not sure if we can incorporate all or some of these four elements,” said Goel.
At present, four IT companies have submitted their bids for the project. BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta, who is the head of the SEC committee, said the civic agency can commit only 10 per cent of the total cost involved and the rest will be committed when the feasibility of the plan is assured following the demo run.
“After a couple of months, we will run a mock trial of the online voting and seek public opinion on whether they think it is a good idea and whether they will register themselves for online voting. The concept is useful as it can help many citizens, especially the physically challenged,” said Gupta.
Last year, Gujarat introduced e-voting for the first time in the country. But only 1,582 voters registered across 11 wards of Gandhinagar corporation.