E-voting for migrants by 2019?
The 2014 Lok Sabha Elections have just gotten over and many people stationed outside of their respective constituencies – owing to job or education – have felt the pinch of not being able to vote. After all, it was tough to convince the boss that you need three days off to travel to your hometown to be able to vote, or convince teachers that you will bunk lectures for three days.
Facing the dilemma of choosing between being responsible students and responsible citizens, a group of students from National Institute of Design (NID) – Gandhi Nagar, have developed EasyElect, a concept that enables the polling booth to be taken to people rather than the other way round. The group of 22-year-olds comprises of Naveen Kumar, Mandrila Biswas, Prathma Verma, Surabhi Bhatnagar and Raja Biswas, who are studying computer engineering and interaction design at NID.
Bhatnagar says, “Our target is people like us – young, educated and mobile – who are Internet savvy. They want to vote, but get stuck owing to distances. EasyElect entails having voting kiosks, just like ATMs, which can be stationed at the SDM office in each district. The user authentication can be done using Aadhar data.”
On the other hand is Mayank Goyal, a third-year B-Tech student at Krishna Institute of Engineering and Technology, Murad Nagar (UP), who has come up with the concept of Automatic Voting Machine – a machine that will be connected directly to the server, in which all the information about the voters and candidates is already stored.
“Each voter will be able to access AVM only once and the access can be done by finger print or retina scan,” he says. “Something like this can have a great utility during the coming Lok Sabha elections if an AVM can be fixed at the polling booth, or at SDM’s office,” adds Goyal, who plans to make a prototype of the machine and test it during his college elections.
Both the concepts won them Nasscom Social Innovation Honours 2014 in the Students category. Rita Soni, CEO of Nasscom Foundation, says, “We need a revamping of the election process to make it more citizen-friendly. For this, we need innovative use of technology along with bureaucratic engagement. NASSCOM Foundation will take these two solutions to the Election Commission of India.”
Adds Bhatnagar, “We did an unofficial survey of sorts, which said that 46 per cent people couldn’t vote this time, owing to migration. Not only this, as many as 30 per cent couldn’t vote owing to logisitical issues – standing in queues outside polling booths, taking a day off from the daily chores etc. EasyElect may be an answer to that.”
Goyal says, “Maybe, by next elections, the Election Commission is ready to accept such innovative models. After all, a few elections ago, who had thought of electronic voting machines?”