Ayes and Nays

Why in News?

  • Recent proposal of the Election Commission of India to grant voting rights to migrants.


  • India has a high rate of migration due to regional variations in demographic trends and economic opportunities. The migration rate almost doubled in the census decade of 2001-2011.
  • The economic and political rights of the migrants are often compromised at their place of origin and residence. To deal with this situation, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has proposed a mechanism to facilitate remote voting for domestic migrants. 
  • The Remote Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) prototype can be utilized for up to 72 constituencies simultaneously from a single, remote polling booth. 
  • The Commission has also invited political parties for a demonstration of the prototype on 16 January 2023. 
  • Any attempt to advance migrants’ rights should be welcomed. However, a hurried approach might damage the integrity of the electoral process.

Trends in voter participation:

  • Though voter participation in India is relatively high, yet, in 2019, one in three voters did not vote. 
  • As per the 2017 Economic Survey, there are approximately 14 crore internal-migrants in India, and they face multiple challenges in voting. 

Associated Concerns:

  • It is suggested by many experts that the public trust in the Electronic Voting Machine(EVM) is low, as the voter has no way to see whether the vote is recorded or not. 
  • It is also argued that the recent proposal will further add to public scepticism about ECI’s impartiality and reliability of the EVMs. 
  • Some of the fundamental questions associated with the new plan are the correlation between citizenship and territoriality. 
  • Furthermore, defining a migrant who is eligible to vote remotely is going to be controversial. For example, when does a migrant at a place become a resident? 
  • ECI has also expressed doubts about the practicality of remote voting rights for migrants in the past. 
  • Meanwhile, there is also a demand for voting rights for Non-Resident Indians(NRIs).


  • In an era of unprecedented human mobility, the concept of portable voting rights is worth considering. 
  • Moreover, higher turnout during elections is worth striving for, but there should be sufficient safeguards from the far-reaching ramifications.
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