IIT-M developing new voting technology for poll panel
17 February 2020
The IIT Madras is reported to be working on a new technology which will allow electors to vote from far away cities without going to the designated polling station of their respective constituencies, reports citing Election Commission sources said.
The report citing a senior poll panel official, said the project is at present in the development stage with an aim of bringing out a prototype.
The project will use ‘block chain’ technology for a two-way electronic voting system, in a controlled environment, on white-listed IP devices on dedicated internet lines, enabled with biometric devices and a web camera,” a PTI report quoted Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena as saying.
However, voters will have to reach a designated venue during a pre-decided period of time to be able to use this “anytime-anywhere-any device,” Saxena said, adding that it would require some more time and technological advancement to develop the facility.
The “two-way block chain remote voting” process would involve voter identification and authorisation using a multi-layered IT-enabled system working on the Electoral Registration Officer Network (ERO Net) using biometrics and web cameras.
After a voter’s identity is established by the system, a block chain enabled personalised e-ballot paper (Smart Contract) will be generated
When the vote is cast (Smart Contract executed), the ballot would be securely encrypted and a block chain hashtag (#) will be generated
This hashtag notification would be sent to various stakeholders, in this case — the candidates and political parties.
The encrypted remote votes so cast would once again be validated at the pre-counting stage to ensure that they have neither been decrypted, nor tampered with or replaced.
“Suppose there is a Lok Sabha election and a Chennai voter is in Delhi. Instead of returning to vote in his or her constituency or missing out on voting, the voter can reach a predesignated spot set up by the EC, say in Connaught Place, in a particular time window and can cast his vote,”
Saxena said voters may have to apply in advance to their returning officers to exercise the option.
The project is still in the R&D stage and only if the technology is found to be “okay”, it will be tried in actual conditions and further stakeholder consultations and changes in the election laws and rules will be carried out, he said.
The aim is to ensure that migrant workers who miss out on voting as they cannot afford going home during elections to exercise their franchise after a bill to allow proxy voting for overseas Indians had lapsed following the dissolution of the previous Lok Sabha.