Voter ID (India)

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The Indian voter ID card is issued by the Election Commission of India. Its primary purpose is as identity proof for casting vote. It also serves as general purpose identity proof, address proof and age proof such as buying a mobile phone SIM or applying for a passport. It is also known as Electoral Photo ID Card (EPIC). As of March 2014, the population of India is 1.25 billion (125 crore) and it has 1 billion (100 crore) voters. Therefore, one billion voters will cast vote in the parliamentary general election of 2014.[1][2]

Physical appearance[edit]

This card is a black & white or color laminated plain paper. Its size is almost that of the bank card. It is not a plastic card or smart card. It contains the face photo, date of birth, and address of the card holder. It also contains the serial number, a hologram sticker and stamped signature of the issuing authority.

This card does not contain the part number and serial number of the given constituency. Although part number and serial number are most important to reach the specific booth for vote cast, yet it keeps changing every year. Now people can find online their part number and serial number as the data has been put online by the Election Commission.[3]

Obtaining voter card[edit]

The voter card is issued to all Indian citizens who have attained the age of 18 years and qualify to be a voter. One has to apply on prescribed Form-6 of Election Commission attached with proof of ID, Indian nationality, age and residence.[4][5]

Since bankrupt and mentally sick people over 18 years do not qualify to be voter, therefore it is not issued to them.

Applicants have to submit paper Form-6 to their municipal corporation / cantonment board / village panchayat of the area.

Applicants can also apply online on the website of the chief electoral officer (CEO) given for that State. For example, it is for Karnataka, for Kerala, for Uttar Pradesh, for Delhi, for Tamil Nadu etc.

Fake and defunct voter cards[edit]

There are millions of fake and defunct voter cards available in India. It has very low reliability. Although one cannot use it for vote cast, yet it is misused for other ID purposes fraudulently such as obtaining mobile SIM, ration card etc. [6][7][8][9]

Some times, voters report cases where the votes on their names are cast by some other unknown people. Such cases are referred to as the cases of bogus voting. In this case a voter is unable to cast a vote even though he/she has its name in the voters' list. If a voter falls victim to such a practice, he/she must report the same to the polling officer. You may also question the duty of the officer as in why was the fraudulent voter allowed to cast a vote in your name and why wasn't his identity checked properly. The polling officer may fail to respond to your problem in a satisfactory way. In this case you may resort to take your problem to the presiding officer. Make sure that you have your valid voter ID card to prove your own identity. When this issue is brought to the notice of the presiding officer, he/she would issue a tender ballot paper to the voter. This tender ballot paper would allow the voter to still exercise his/her franchise to vote. This tender ballot paper is provided to the victims of bogus voting by Rule 49P of Conduct of Election Rules.[10]

Problem areas[edit]

Although people continue to hold their voter cards issued earlier, yet their name does not appear subsequently in the voter list. Hence the card is not valid for vote cast in such cases. Therefore, the card does not guarantee one to be a valid voter.

If a person moves his/ her residence to another assembly constituency then he does not remain a valid voter of previous constituency. The person has to register afresh as voter in the new assembly constituency. Hence the new card is issued and old card becomes invalid.

Solution to problem areas[edit]

Electoral system should be Aadhaar-enabled.[11][12] Aadhaar is valid for the life time of the holder and it is never assigned to another person even after death of the holder. Aadhaar is digital, universal and unique that guarantees biometric consent-based ID verification online instantly.[13]

Voter card not required[edit]

Declare voter card obsolete and enable voting thru Aadhaar only. It will save multi-billion rupee annually on enrollment and maintenance of voter cards.[14]

Aadhaar-enabled electronic voting machine (EVM) should be procured or the existing EVMs can be modified to connect with Aadhaar authentication handheld device with 2G internet access. Thus, people will be able to cast their vote at the booth with Aadhaar number and finger-print. Aadhaar will make the voter card obsolete.[11][15][13][12][16][17]

Vote from anywhere[edit]

Presently, people have to go physically to one particular vote-booth, in extreme weather conditions that causes inconvenience to sick, old and disabled people and also absence from work etc. Those who are not present in station are not able to vote. Millions of people in armed forces and migrant workers have not been able to cast their vote in the largest democracy of the world. The number is pretty large - 1.5 million army, 0.5 million air force and navy, 2 million police and paramilitary forces and 400 million migrant laborers.[18][19][20][21][22][11]

Aadhaar-enabling will make voting mobile.[11][12] One will be able to cast vote from their registered mobile phone or laptop from anywhere. It will provide a lot of flexibility, mobility, convenience, access, options and high voting participation that will make the democracy true.[13]

Low acceptance of voter card as general ID proof[edit]

Voter card has very low acceptability and reliability as general ID and address proof for 2 major reasons:

  • Lack of instant authentication at the general point of service (general PoS) unlike Aadhaar.
  • Millions of defunct and fake voter cards.

Therefore, it is not considered the primary proof by various agencies. Passport office and banks consider it only as secondary proof, not the primary and ask for more documents. New bank account or passport is not issued solely relying upon voter card.[6][7][8][9]

The process comparison of voter card with other IDs in the table below clearly show the reasons of its low acceptability as general ID.[citation needed]

(appropriate table to be put here with sources)

See also[edit]