EC to distribute Photo cards to all voters within 2 years
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Last Updated: Friday, April 16, 2010, 23:31
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 question.

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.


First Published: Friday, April 16, 2010, 23:31

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