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National I-card may soon become reality
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 19
A multipurpose national identity card having a unique identity number may soon become a reality solving the problem of glitches in the voters list declared chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswami here today.

As the chief guest at the concluding session of the two-day National Conference on Electoral and Political Process Reforms, the CEC answered a wide range of questions posed by a mixed band of participants including members of the civil society, media and academicians.

A pilot project for providing such a card is already being implemented in around 14 taluqas of South India. “Once we get a go-ahead from the Government of India, we can implement it at a large scale” announced the CEC while speaking to mediapersons.

The card would also be used for identification purposes in various government schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme said Gopalaswami.

He said that such a card would check the problem of absentee voters due to migration, as the voter would be able to exercise his franchise from any place using his unique identity number.

Responding to the suggestion of having the voters list on the computer making retrieval easier, the CEC said that that such a system was also not foolproof as the same name is spelt in so many ways that retrieval by computer can become very tricky.

Another step in the offing that would make bogus voting next to impossible is revised voters list with photographs. “As such, it would not be difficult to establish the identity of the voter even without his/her bringing in any document,” said the CEC. He hoped that by the time of the Lok Sabha polls such a list should be available.

Admitting that there were approximately 3 crore excess voters in the voters list largely due to duplication of entry of migrant voters, Gopalaswami acknowledged that one of the major challenges during the recently concluded UP elections was to ensure that the vote of these absentee electorate was not misused at any place.

Disclosing the position on delimitation of constituencies for the coming Lok Sabha polls, he said that the ball now was in the Central government’s court. “The Delimitation Commission has completed its work and submitted its report to the Central government which has to decide.”

He, however, pointed out that once he gets a green signal from the Central government, the EC would require at least four to six months to bring in the required changes in the voters lists to fully implement the recommendations.

Answering a question about far-flung polling stations contributing to low polling percentages in remote rural areas, the CEC suggested that mobile polling stations in the future might be able to solve this problem.

Describing the task of verifying the authenticity of each affidavit filed by prospective candidates as “next to impossible” Gopalaswami said that such an exercise would be time consuming and may delay the electoral process.

He did not rule out the possibility of an inquiry into the veracity of the contents of a candidate’s affidavit if a specific case was brought to the EC’s notice after the poll process was over.

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