Enfranchising Migrant Workers Should be Considered By the Election Commission!

  • All over the world, the Indian democratic institutions are recognized and acknowledged for not only their vivid vibrancy but also for meticulously planning and going about executing strategies in as diverse as well as geographically widespread regions of the country. Indeed, one of the most arduous tasks of ensuring the democratic form of governance sustains is to organize near flawless and fair elections.  Imagine what it would extract to conduct elections in a country with a population of 1.35 billion.  A humongous endeavor demanding utmost diligence, commitment, dedication, focus, planning, and most importantly, executing the stratagems on the ground.

PC: Livspace

  • It is here that the Election Commission of India has performed its entrusted responsibilities admirably. The Election Commission of India is widely venerated, both locally as well as internationally, for the way the statutory body has discharged its entrusted responsibilities over the years.  However, there are a few areas where the ECI could channel its focus to encourage eligible electorates to exercise their franchise.  As such, the ECI’s move to conduct a pilot project to explore the possibility of remote voting for migrant workers is a big plus for electoral democracy.
  • Of course, democracy becomes meaningful and equitable when every citizen has a fair chance to cast a vote. Remember, not everyone can take a train or flight back home to vote.  Reports suggest that nearly 300 million citizens out of a total of 910 million electors didn’t cast their votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Thus, leaving aside those averse to voting, there’s a good possibility that many weren’t present at constituencies where they are registered to vote, the absence dictated by livelihood compulsions.  Needless to mention, ways to enfranchise them must be found.  From the 2011 Census that counted 450 million internal migrants, the number is estimated to be 600 million now.

PC: FP Politics

  • Also, short-term migrants spending some months of the year in cities far away from their villages rarely acquire a vote in their place of work. This category will benefit from EC’s move.  Agreed, logistics will be complicated, migrants will have to be mapped, and then enrolled for remote voting.  Designated polling centers must be set up across India.  One can foresee election day challenges like verifying voter identities and ensuring the vote cast on the EVM is channeled to the correct booth and constituency.  Yes, those listed for remote voting turning up physically at domicile polling booths due to personal or other emergencies, like the lockdown, must be accommodated.
  • However, none of these is a dealbreaker. We know right from shuttling security forces and polling officers across polling phases, sanitizing electoral rolls, and enrolling first-time voters to getting the women’s vote out, EC is a past master at resolving logistical tangles.  With institutional and political will, difficulties can be overcome.  If you recollect, the previous Lok Sabha had passed a bill to extend the proxy voting facility to NRIs, but the bill lapsed.  Such reforms should get cross-party backing.  We know Gujarat is a migrant worker hub.  The EC should start its pilot here and aim for a full rollout for the ensuing 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.