January 26, 2021 2:28:26 am
Noting the struggle that countries and people worldwide have been through to attain democracy, President Ram Nath Kovind, in his address on National Voters’ Day on Monday, said that Indians should respect their right to vote.
Since 2011, National Voters’ Day has been celebrated on January 25 to mark the foundation day of the Election Commission of India (EC).
Addressing the event virtually, the President said, “I would like to remind the people that we should always respect the valuable right to vote… The right to vote is not a simple right; people around the world have struggled a lot for this. Since independence, our Constitution has given equal voting rights to all citizens without any discrimination on the basis of merit, religion, race, caste. For this, we are indebted to the makers of our Constitution.”
Outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the EC would draw on its experience of conducting the country’s first election during a pandemic in Bihar to prepare for the upcoming elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. “We will leverage the experience gained in the Bihar election and ensure that these elections are free, fair, transparent, participative, ethical and safe,” he said.
At the event, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched the Electronic Electoral Photo Identity Card or e-EPIC. The e-EPIC will be available in non-editable secure PDF version and in the first phase, between January 25 and January 31, only new voters who have shared their mobile number will be able to download their digital voter cards. From February all voters will be able to access their digital voter cards, provided their mobile number is available with the EC.
Prasad lauded the poll panel’s initiative saying technology is an enabler and that the EC has used it to empower the voters. He also referred to the controversy over the Electronic Voting Machines by pointing out that though the BJP won all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi during the 2019 general elections, the party only managed to garner a handful of seats during the 2020 Assembly polls, adding that EVMs had ensured free and fair elections and that any instrument designed to empower people should be welcomed.
On Sunday, Arora had said that mock trials for remote voting facility for electors would begin soon. He said a research project on remote voting using cutting-edge technology has already begun.
“There has been a good progress in this regard and mock trials will begin soon,” Arora had said, adding the poll panel’s proposal to extend postal ballot facility for overseas Indian voters is under active consideration of the Law Ministry. —(with PTI inputs)
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