The BJP on Tuesday asked the Election Commission to introduce a facility for electronic voting, saying it would increase the participation of defence personnel in elections and enable them to vote without delay. A delegation of Union ministers J P Nadda and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi submitted a memorandum to the EC and asked it to consult the chiefs of the three services on devising ways to help service personnel vote through e-ballots.
Party general secretaries Bhupender Yadav and Arun Singh were also signatories to the memorandum. At present, electronic ballot papers are transmitted online to such voters but they can cast their votes only by sending the ballots to their respective returning officers through the regular postal service, which takes a considerable period of time.
While introducing this facility earlier this year, the EC had ruled out electronic casting of votes because of security reasons such as hacking. The BJP delegation said the e-ballot facility was introduced in the Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa Assembly elections in February this year but very few serving personnel in the services made use of it.
Pitching for a two-way electronic voting process, it said the EC should take adequate legal and administrative steps and make arrangements for the electronic submission of votes. “This would ensure that service personnel, deployed wherever, are able to cast their vote without any delay. This will vastly improve participation in democratic processes of a sizable population of the country guarding our borders,” it said.
It also asked the commission to enable serving defence personnel to immediately access electronically transmitted ballots so that they could submit their votes without delay to the appropriate returning officers. The BJP also sought sensitisation and training of senior services personnel in the usage of e-ballot and asked the EC to explore ways of acknowledging a vote on e-ballot similar to the VVPAT (Voter-verified paper audit trail), in which people can verify that their votes have been cast correctly.
The BJP’s plea comes ahead of assembly polls in a number of states, including Himachal Pradesh, which has a high number of voters working in the three services.