Ahead of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, on Friday, hinted that eligible overseas Indian voters could participate in the country's polls. However, unlike regular voters using electronic voting machines to cast their votes, the overseas population could participate through an electronic-postal ballot.
He also said that the timely and continued delivery of credible electoral outcomes since 1952 was an important ingredient of worldwide acknowledgement of India's comprehensive national power, especially in an era of "democratic backsliding". Kumar made these remarks while addressing the 2022-batch Indian Foreign Service officer-trainees on the theme "India-the Mother of Democracies and Role of ECI" at the Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi.
EC official raises concerns over fake news and deep fakes
Speaking on the common challenges being faced by election management bodies in the conduct of free and fair elections, the chief election commissioner referred to the rising threat of fake news and deepfakes on social media derailing the election narratives.
According to sources, when asked about voting by overseas voters, Kumar said that the time has come when the fifth largest economy of the world invoked technology-driven methodology to facilitate eligible overseas Indian voters to participate in elections through an electronically transmitted postal ballot system (ETBPS).
Process is underway
The EC proposal to facilitate ETPBS for overseas Indian voters is under discussions with the Ministry of External Affairs to "iron out" logistical challenges involved in its implementation, the government told Rajya Sabha in March this year.
The total number of overseas electors as on January 1 this year stood at over 1.15 lakh. Kumar also said that in the growing worldwide concern of democratic recession, the EC's continued delivery of credible electoral outcomes showcases the strength and resilience of its democratic institutions.
The CEC also gave an overview of the complexity of numbers and sophistication of the process for conducting elections in the world's largest democracy. More than 10 lakh polling stations and over one crore polling officials ensure an inclusive, accessible, participative and tech-driven election.
He said India's elections are often hailed as the world's largest peacetime mobilisation conducted with six sigma precision in terms of movement of men and material.
(With inputs from PTI)