The plan to introduce e-voting and increase voter participation in next year’s BMC elections is expected to be shelved due to delays and security fears.
E-voting was considered as an option to facilitate voting for the urban middle class and increase their share in the overall voting percentage that was a dismal 47 per cent in 2007. The BMC and the State Election Commission were to jointly develop a system of online voting for the elections due in February.
But the BMC’s election department has received more than 30 objections from individuals and organisations against the implementation of e-voting, citing security concerns. An official from the election department said the system is not robust and can lead to rigging. “The plan was announced in February this year, but authorities sat on it for many months. Now, there is hardly any time left now and the demo trial is yet to take place. We have inspected the existing system and have observed a number of potential security breaches,” he said. The estimated cost of implementing e-voting is Rs 35 crore.
BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta, who is also the chairman of the state-appointed technical committee on e-voting, admitted there is very little time left. On whether e-voting will be implemented this time, he did not seem optimistic and said: “It is true that we do not have much time left, but we are still awaiting the demo trial and will take a final call once that happens.” Officials from the State Election Commission refused to comment on Wednesday and said they will comment only after Diwali.
… While earlier it was proposed to enable voting through personal computers and mobile phones, it was later decided to have it only at e-kiosks. “E-kiosks may be similar to polling booths, but yet can’t recreate the secure environment for a voter that the latter can, where no one apart from the voter himself will know for whom he/she has cast the vote,” said Sharma.