EC to distribute Photo cards to all voters within 2 years

More than 800 million people would have their election photo IDs on hand in two years if the election commission has its way.

Kochi: More than 800 million people would
have their election photo IDs on hand in two years if the
election commission has its way.

"My endeavour is that within two years, everybody in
India will have the Photo Identity Cards. About 582 million
Photo Identity cards were issued before 2009 Lok Sabha
elections. It is more than the population of North and South
America, Africa and Europe. We are targeting 814 plus million,
Chief Election Commissioner, Navin Chawla, said here today.
Compared to neighbouring countries, Indian elections were
held regularly and on time and this was a huge achievement,
he said after giving away the Kerala Management`s
Association`s `Manager of the Year` award to A Balakrishnan,
Chief Technology Officer of the Geojit BNP Paribas Financial
Services Ltd.

"So far only 82 per cent of the population has been
covered. Everyone should vote. Every vote cast is a vote for
democracy", he said, adding, however, compulsory voting was
not feasible in the country.

In Australia there was fine of 100 Australian dollars for
not voting, he informed the gathering..

Later, answering queries from the audience, he said there
were practical difficulties "for taking voting system to other
countries, including the Gulf."

"We do not have the wherewithal", he replied to that
Giving examples, he said from the last date of nomination
to the day of polls, there was only a gap of 14 days. "The
ballot papers have to be prepared and sent through a safe
courier. The independent candidates have to be given symbols",
he said.

On defacement of public property during election time
and use of loudspeakers causing inconvenience, Chawla said
different states have different legislations and the EC will
have to look into it.

"Scene is much quieter now. But politicians are not happy.
In the last election, we did relax some restrictions.
Elections are a celebration. There should be balance. The
people have to know their candidates. We have to allow some
mechanism to know the candidates. Some balancing has to be
done," he said.

Due to Supreme Court restrictions, loudspeakers cannot be
used after 10 pm, he added.

On the contention that Electronic Voting Machines could be
manipulated, Chawla rejected it.

Asked about possibility of Internet voting, he quipped,
"We in Election Commission are by nature very mistrustful" and
asked the audience if Internet voting can be misused?

"If it can be misused, whether it can be forestalled?"
Chawla enquired from the gathering.

He said Kerala was the first state to produce 100 per
cent electoral rolls and 100 per cent photo ID cards. "If
Kerala can do (it), other states can also do it," the chief
election commissioner said.