International

Vote from home, Its online

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Its sounds sarcastic but, it is true. Imagine holding general polls every two years or three years at a fraction of the cost and time that it takes to hold them now. Or, exercising your franchise sitting on your armchair at home, sipping coffee.
For India electronic voting machine may be the latest tech gadget in action, but many countries have moved on. Brazil, Latin America's largest and most populous democracy, went to the presidential polls in 2002 with online voting kiosks. Called e-voting, the new system has been experimented by the UK, France, Switzerland, Estonia, Canada and Australia. As per the reports, the voting machines used in Brazil were simple and compact. Although, similar to the current crop of EVMs being used in India, the Brazilian kiosks can work on for more than 12 hours in areas as deep as the Amazon jungles without being plugged in. Votes were cast on about 3,25,000 kiosks, encrypted and transmitted electronically over secure lines to Brazil's state capitals. From there, the votes were relayed electronically to tabulating machines in the country's capital of Brasilia for the final count. According to Nelson Jobim, president of Brazil's election tribunal, the kiosks resemble small bank-teller machines, with keyboards and small screens. When a voter punches in a designated number for a candidate, the candidate's face appears on the small screen, and the voter confirms or rejects the vote. ''It's not a joke to think you can calculate in less than 12 hours the count of 90 million votes without a problem,'' he added. Belgium, districts of Spain and the Netherlands have been using touch screen kiosks. Australia is also planning to install 'remote voting' terminals as far as Antarctica for its citizens. The UK is planning to go online in as soon as 2008 and has allocated about 30 million pounds for the project. The modes of voting may vary from fixed-line telephones or cell phones. About 93 per cent of UK homes have fixed-line phones and a further six per cent have mobiles instead. The Internet may also be used by the British on holidays or vote through the Net from anywhere in the world, known as remote voting by electronic means (RVEM). The UK is also looking at digital television (iDTV), that currently has 8.3 million subscribers, as a voting tool. Instead of a polling card, voters might receive PIN numbers, fingerprint identification, social security number or other forms of electronic authentication for use in e-voting. There have also been reports of Estonia gearing up to vote over the Internet in its 2006 elections. Now this is up to the Government of India to look how this system be workable in conduting a grand affair of general election efficiently in India.

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