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India mulls digital voter ID before assembly elections next year

India mulls digital voter ID before assembly elections next year

The electoral commission of India is reportedly considering embarking on a project to digitize photo ID cards to provide a voters’ digital ID in the world’s largest democracy, The Tribune reports.

The report quoted an unnamed senior official as saying the electoral commission was receiving a litany of proposals from various quarters on the subject matter. “We keep getting suggestions and ideas from officers on the field, through working groups of (state) chief electoral officers and the public. This is one such idea we are working on,” the official said.

Details on how the new system about to be introduced will work were not given by the official, but the he said the final decision will rest with the electoral commission. “It can be on a mobile, website, through e-mail… the idea is to provide faster delivery and easy accessibility. Physical cards take time to print and time to reach the voter,” the source told The Tribune.

Digital images could also make photo identification easier, according to the report.

Another report by Hindustan Times quoted anonymous sources as suggesting that the new voter ID cards could be put to use before the second round of assembly elections slated before May next year in some states including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Union Territory Puducherry.

According to the report, the proposal for a new card will have to be approved by the country’s chief electoral commissioner, Sunil Arora, as well as two other commissioners, Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar.

Should the idea be considered for implementation, the card, dubbed Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC), which until now is delivered in hard copy, would be produced in digital format.

The reports also cite their sources as intimating that the new system will not only ensure convenience for users, but will go a long way in cutting the cost of printing hardcopy cards.

The Indian Express reports that eligible voters will have to provide the Electoral Commission with their mobile number or email address at the tie of enrolment to the voter’s list, which is then verified. One-time password (OTP) authentication will allow the voter to download the EPIC, according to the report.

After providing their email or mobile number, Express says existing voters may have to verify their identity through a process similar to bank KYC, which means utilizing biometrics.

Chess Federation uses biometric voting

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) is planning to adopt face biometrics among new authentication methods for electing its officials, The Times of India reports.

The decision was made by Returning Officer and retired judge K. Kannan, over objections from within the organization. The proposed election process would also include an OTP.

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