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Gujarat To Introduce e-Voting In Civic Polls; Why Not Use CSCs?

A pathbreaking initiative: the government of Gujarat and the State Election Commission have decided to introduce e-voting, via the Internet, for the Municipal Corporation elections, reports PTI.

Apparently a draft notification regarding the development, for suggestions and objections has been published by Gujarat’s Urban Development department, and a task force has been formed to look into all aspects of e-voting. GovernanceNow quotes SEC Secretary, P H Shah as saying that the purpose is to make it easier for the affluent class to vote. They are planning to ask IT firms to provide the infrastructure for this initiative.

Despite our best efforts, we were not able to locate the draft notification at Gujarat’s Urban Development Department’s website. In case you’re able to find it, please do email it across to nikhil@medianama.com.

Our Take

While the objective, according to Shah, is to attract the affluent voter who chooses not to vote, remember that this could well be a precursor to the roll-out of e-Voting to government established Common Service Centers. There were as many as 76,100 CSCs as of 31st March 2010, allowing people to access and submit information such as birth certificate, Internet access, e-Learning, electric bill collection, BSNL bill collection, mobile top ups, railway reservation, LIC premium collection, rural-job portal (Chaakri), e-Commerce, etc. The role of the CSCs is gradually expanding – now as banking correspondents (read this and this). While 76,100 may not be sufficient to take care of voting for the whole country, there’s no reason why CSCs can’t also function as online polling booths.

However, we do believe that the authentication of the voter must be established via physical verification, whether by comparing signatures, thumb prints, photograph with the individual, or as the case will probably be once the Unique Identification Project is rolled out, via biometric authentication. If you’re going to vote from your PC or via mobile, the authentication is unlikely to be established accurately or the secrecy of vote maintained.

Oddly enough, the Gujarat Congress has said that this move is for the benefit of the “class” not “mass”. Someone cure their myopia, please.

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