In a clear indication that online voting was being explored as an electoral voting option at the highest levels, Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma on Wednesday said the Election Commission had been told by the agencies concerned that the country had the capacity to implement electronic or online voting in the “next three weeks”.
He, however, added that security and safety concerns had to be given paramount importance while trying this technology out.
“In India, as far as the capacity of our IT ministry is concerned, we can implement e-voting in next three weeks,” Brahma said, while speaking at an open house on Electoral Reforms in India in the capital.
Stating that the EC had recently had a meeting with IT Secretary, NIC Director and CDAC authorities, he said, “India is ready… even today… the IT Secretary has told us that give us three weeks time, we will able to conduct e-voting in any district of the country. Gujarat has already been doing it. What is required is security and safety.”
On questions of safety and security, Brahma said that “designated e-voting centres” with several built-in safeguards could be one of the options to implement e-voting.
Stating that allowing e-voting from schools, hospitals, colleges or even homes can be explored, he added that these places would be more secure. “A decision on this has to be taken at the highest level,” he said.
Underlining the way technology changes and gets upgraded every few years, Brahma said, “Election Commission cannot be immune (to change)… we cannot live like an ostrich. There is a need for us to change with the times. We all know that technology changes every 10-20 years, there is a need for us to change as well. The future of elections will be more technology based.”
Talking about the discussion on the “first-past-the-post” system of elections, in which the candidate securing the highest number of votes is declared elected even if more people have voting against him, the CEC said, “In fact, one of my senior colleagues, an ex-Chief Election Commissioner wrote to me a letter two months back and said, ‘Brahma, time is up. We should not go for first past the post. We should go for something else. The first past the post is always dicey’.”
Brahma said a lot many people had started questioning the kind of democracy and the kind of elections we have where people securing 25-30 per cent votes get elected and where “minority rules the majority”.