First, it was the law that made voting compulsory in local body elections. Now, Gujarat wants to make it easy for all those voters by letting them vote from their homes or wherever they are, using desktops or laptops.
For the first time, the Gujarat Election Commission is offering the option of online voting, starting in October during polls for all six municipal corporations: Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar.
“This is a one of its kind project in Asia. No other election commission in India is offering this,” said M V Joshi, Secretary, Gujarat Election Commission.
According to him, the move is aimed at addressing “urban apathy” to voting and increase the turnout on election day. “We expect the facility to be availed by those who have no time to come out to booths and vote,” said Joshi, adding, “Now that voting is compulsory in the local body elections from this time, the online facility will facilitate and complement the same.”
Last year, the state had passed the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws Bills 2009, which made voting mandatory and ensured 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies.
As for online voting, the state election panel had carried out a pilot project in select wards in 2010. Last year, voters in all the wards in Junagadh were provided this facility.
To avail the option, voters will have to register online on the Gujarat Election Commission website http://sec.gujarat.gov.in/
The next step is physical verification by local officials who will visit voters at their homes. Apart from voter ID and other proof, officials will also note biometric details and the hardware configuration of the laptop or desktop that will be used for voting.
“Voters will have to use the same hardware for which the verification has been done. At the time of voting, a one-time password will be sent to their mobile phones, which will be followed by verification online. Then, the voter will be allowed to cast the vote online,” said Joshi.