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After Making Voting Compulsory, Guj Mulls Online Polling

PTI 29 Jan 2010, 17:28:18 PM IST

After becoming the first state in India to make voting compulsory in all local body elections, Gujarat is now toying with the idea of introducing online polling for civic polls.

The State Election Commission (SEC), a watchdog for elections in local bodies, is working on introducing voting through SMS or internet in municipal and panchayat polls, a top state Election official said on Friday in Ahmedabad.

The Narendra Modi government moved to make voting mandatory during local body polls after the Gujarat Assembly passed a controversial bill in this regard last month.

"We have suggested the concept of voting by SMS and through internet to the state government," Gujarat's Election Commissioner K C Kapoor told PTI.

 Kapoor however conceded that making online voting fool-proof would be a challenging task.

"We need to be cautious about online hacking and other ways to tamper the online system. Robust security measures are needed for these system," he said, adding that the servers which would store the data need to be able to recognise each voter and accept the genuine votes and reject the fake ones.

Kapoor said, "Even if we are not able to implement the idea on a large scale we would like to implement it as a pilot project on an experimental basis."

"Though it is at a discussion stage, we are very serious about it. We have suggested to the government that once we get the go ahead signal, a task force comprising of experts from the state and outside and government officials would be set up," he said.

Kapoor said the task force would then deliberate on the details of this concept and the IT infrastructure needed for the online voting system. Some names for the task force have been suggested and now the final approval of the state government was awaited, he added.

"Some local body elections are to be held by the end of 2010, we hope that the system could be implemented by that time," he said.

Kapoor said that the basic plan for the system was ready but finer details are yet to be chalked out.

 "When countries like US and UK could use online voting during their elections why can't we," he said.

Kapoor said the objective of introducing online system was to increase the voters' participation by making the procedure simpler and speedier. PTI