Election reforms

India is changing rapidly; the days of staid decisions are over now. e-Governance has changed the concept; everything is available in the form of an app or at the click of a computer mouse. One segment that has remained untouched for almost three decades now has been the electoral reforms. All the modern concepts of the voter ID card, declaration of assets, no posters on walls, capping election expenditure, and so many other election-related things were introduced by CEC T.N. Sheshan. Further introduction of the EVM was added, but in this digital age when everything is getting done by apps, why can’t the voting exercise be done by some mobile app with biometric checks and balances? We already have a PAN and Aadhaar-linked KYC system in place that can verify the authenticity of the person concerned; why can’t it be used to cast a vote? In every election, there is a poor voting percentage for the majority of constituency seats. The main reason is that the voters are either not present in the constituency on voting day. The reasons for absence can be different, like the voter working at a distance or some other compulsion or not being in the mood to go to the polling booth, but the ultimate casualty is democracy. If we parse the election data and gander at the election results, victory margins are as low as single-digit vote differences. It is, in a sense, a criminal offence not to cast one’s vote.
India is factually a software guru in the world; as such, why can’t we develop a system of Vote From Home (VFH)? Developing and adopting such a system is not as difficult as it seems to be. The Commission has developed a mobile application called “Saksham” for people who are physically unable to come to the polling stations. As an experiment in the coming state elections, this application will be used by the concerned persons to exercise their voting rights. The other important decision by the ECI is an arrangement by the EC of respective states to allow 80-year-old persons who are not able to come to polling booths due to the age factor to cast their votes from home. For this purpose, Form 12-D will be filled out, a vote will be cast, and the whole process will be videotaped as well. Proper secrecy will be maintained, and all political parties will be informed wherever this exercise is conducted. Another historic decision to be implemented by ECI is the KYC (Know Your Customer) campaign. All political parties have to share the information of their candidates on social media and explain the reason for selecting that particular candidate to the public if their candidate has a criminal record.
These are not ordinary, minor decisions, but all of these are historic reforms. These voting experiments, when adopted in totality to cast the VFH, will ultimately be a game changer, as 30 to 40 per cent additional vote casting will change the election scenario in the future, as the vote share difference is as low as 1 per cent in many elections, like in Himachal Pradesh recently. Once implemented, they will be game changers, as with a turnout of 95 percent or more in each election, the outcome will be different. India has achieved 90 percent vaccination to fight off the COVID-19 pandemic. This shows that the Indian public is mature enough to understand the actual gravity of the situation rationally. All parties must unite to push these reforms now. All these reforms will be happily accepted and much appreciated by the public.