Election Commission developing new voting technology with IIT-M! 10 things you should know

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Published: February 16, 2020 9:44:06 PM

The technology had to be commissioned keeping in mind demands made by political parties that voting facilities be provided to migrants who cannot afford to travel to their constituencies during elections.

Election Commission, Voting technology, Election Commission of India, ECI, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, IIT-Madras, EC official, Sandeep Saxena, Biometric, Web camera, Blockchain, Election Registration Officer Network, ERO Net, Smart Contract, Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System, ETPBS, Law Ministry, Postal ballot, ETPBS The system would work on the Blockchain platform.

The Election Commission of India and the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras (IIT-Madras) are working in collaboration to develop a novel technology that would voters to cast their votes from far off cities without going to the designated polling booths in their constituencies. A senior EC official was quoted by PTI as saying that the project is still in the research and development phase and the aim is to build a prototype soon.

Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena told PTI that the technology under development would be a system enabling two-way voting under a controlled environment. This would be conducted on secured lines over white-listed IP devices that would have biometric devices and web camera provisions. However, this by no means would enable voting from home, Saxena cautioned. He added that to use this facility, the voter would have to be present at designated polling booths at a fixed time. It would take some more time to develop technology that would allow voting from anywhere, at any time and on any device.

What we know so far about the technology:

1) The system would work on the Blockchain platform.

2) The voter would be assigned a time and place to cast their vote.

3) The voter identification and authorisation would be done via Election Commission’s award-winning Election Registration Officer Network (ERO Net) via secure biometrics and webcam.

4) Upon establishing a voter’s identity, the Blockchain-enabled system would generate a “Smart Contract”, or a personalised e-ballot.

5) Upon a vote being cast, the Smart Contract will be considered as “executed” and the vote will be securely encrypted and a Blockchain hashtag (#) will be generated.

6) After the vote is recorded, this Blockchain node, or hashtag, will be sent to the candidates and political parties.

7) These highly-encrypted remote votes will be validated before counting to ensure they haven’t been tampered with.

8) The technology will be put through stringent testing, and only after the protocol is considered fool-proof will stakeholders be consulted.

9)Changes in election rules and laws will then be made and the technology will be deployed for trials in actual conditions.

10) The technology had to be commissioned keeping in mind demands made by political parties that voting facilities be provided to migrants who cannot afford to travel to their constituencies during elections.

One Way Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) was introduced by Law Ministry after tweaking election rules allowing armed forces personnel, central government officers deployed to Indian missions abroad, and central para-military personnel to get their postal ballots electronically. The ETPBS allows them to fill up their ballots and post them back.

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