The Election Commission (EC) is often at the receiving end of strong criticism for its failure to conduct national elections properly. Such criticisms are generally made by the defeated candidates or political parties. The presence of ‘ghost’ voters on the electoral rolls and fake voting are common problems that the EC has been facing for decades. There were, allegedly, some other greater schemes, designed by powerful quarters in the past, to which the EC had become a party by default or by design.
The EC, at the initiative taken by the last military-backed caretaker government, prepared and distributed national identity cards (IDs) to all eligible voters and also printed electoral rolls carrying photographs of the voters before the last general elections. It was a huge task for the EC. But it could accomplish the task quite efficiently under a Tk. 5.7 billion project — large part of which was financed by the external donors — with the active assistance from the Bangladesh Army. The EC had undertaken in the early 1990s a voters’ ID card project but it was abandoned later, after wasting a substantial amount of money.
However, the EC did put on hold the use of the voters’ ID, which is popularly known as national ID card that was prepared and completed in time involving a substantial amount of money with most arduous and painstaking efforts, before the last general elections. The EC told the voters that showing of the ID cards at the time of voting would not be necessary. The EC’s explanation was not convincing, to say the least. Now the EC has come out with another project to prepare, what it has named, Smartcard for the voters at a substantial cost. It has already prepared the project, styled, ‘Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services Idea’. It has sought its approval by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC). Under the proposed EC project to be implemented with external donor funds, the voters will be provided with a Smartcard, containing their personal details including their names, dates and places of birth, present and permanent addresses, blood groups and names of parents, before the next general election.
The Smartcard, will, no doubt, be a better replacement of the existing voter ID cards that can reportedly be forged. Since the Smartcard is embedded with integrated circuits, every polling centre would be required to have card readers during the polling. Moreover, if the government makes the use of the card compulsory for all other transactions, financial or otherwise, then the agencies concerned will also have to install their own EC-issued smartcard readers. If the use of the card remains confined only to voting, its potential use in providing services to the people by different private and public agencies would only be partially tapped. So, it is essential to plan on a much bigger scale to ensure wider use of the Smartcard.
Full Article: Smartcard ID for voters.