Photo I-cards made compulsory for polls

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 28 July 2001 22:38 IST

Goa has taken yet another big step ahead than the Election Commission of India, to prevent bogus voting, at a small municipal election in the tiny state.

For the Ponda municipal elections slated on 19 August, no voter will be allowed to exercise franchise unless his or her photo identity is produced.

"It will be a standing test, law, justice and fair play", states Prabhakar Timble, the state election commissioner. He considers it as a step towards purity of elections and guarding sanctity of right to vote.

His experiment in February last year of producing any kind of identity - with or without a photograph - for the first ever zilla panchayat elections in the state proved to be a real success.

Close on the heels of it, the CEC also experimented it in Haryana Assembly elections. "The CEC gave us a boost to take a step ahead and make photo identity compulsory", states Timble.

The photo identity however is not only the voter's identity card issued by the CEC, but even the I-card issued to the employee by its employer - the state or central government or registered private establishment, PAN card, driving licence, student I-card and even a pass book, but with a photograph.

"In fact we deleted things like ration cards after getting a public feedback that non-photo-identities cannot provide for a full-proof system", states Raghuvir Sanvordekar, the SEC secretary.

According to him, neither a single politician nor any voter has objected to the system of producing identity document at the polling booth. On the contrary, the demand has been to make it more authentic as people have pointed out that bogus ration cards are prepared only for election purpose.

But in order not to deny right to vote to any voter, the CEC has co-operated with SEC and has organised a special instant photo identity card session in Ponda alone for a fortnight, extending it further by seven days, till 5 August.

Though a small election comprising hardly 11,750 voters spread out in 10 wards, the experiment of Ponda could be analysed by all, making the whole election process more transparent and authentic, to cleanse up the polling system in India.

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