Gujarat Chief Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said Saturday there is a need to think about strengthening voter facilitation through innovative means.
Writing in his blog, Modi, while praising the Election Commission of India (ECI) for its "extremely proactive" role in increasing voter registration across across the country, however, said it would be great if the duration between the time one submits the voter registration form and the time when he or she gets the voter card is shortened, and citizens are updated on the status of their application.
"Electioneering in India has come a long way since the first-ever General Elections in 1952. From ballot papers, we have moved to EVMs. Earlier, counting of votes could even extend beyond a day, it is now a matter of hours for the picture to become clear. Earlier, elections could turn extremely violent. Booth capturing prevailed in some parts, but now, violence and other electoral malpractices have reduced substantially," said Modi.
"If there is one important issue even today, it is to further increase voter registration. The past several elections across India have seen record turnouts. This is a positive sign but, there remain several people, particularly youngsters, who despite being eligible, are not registered as voters. The Election Commission has been extremely proactive in increasing registration but with more help from citizens, we can go even further," he adds.
"We need to think about strengthening voter facilitation through innovative means such as mobile registration kiosks," Modi said.
"Similarly, we must ensure that proper voting facilities are made available to our brave army personnel who are tirelessly serving India, especially those posted on the border areas. Some work has been done in this regard, but we still have a very long way to go," he adds.
"It is also the need of the hour to infuse our election processes with even more technology, innovation and look towards the future. We need to explore a more user friendly online voter registration system," the Gujarat chief minister said in his blog.
"Further, we need to use mobile technology for voter registration, information dissemination about polling booths etc. It is also time we start discussing the possibilities of online voting, though admittedly it has its inherent challenges," he adds.
He also said that the Supreme Court's historic verdict to give voters the option to vote ‘None of the Above, was a step in the right direction.
"Its true essence will come out when we are able to successfully institutionalize a near universal voting for our citizens through facilitation for voter registration and voting. Every citizen must rise to the occasion and contribute to the strengthening of our democracy," Modi said.
Apparently taking a dig at the ruling Congress Party, he said: "A vote is the most effective tool in the hands of the people to express themselves and make their voice heard. Even the ‘strongest’ of leaders are mere pygmies in front of the ballot box."
"The best example is the 1977 Lok Sabha elections. Intoxicated with power, overconfidence and authoritarianism, the ruling party and the Prime Minster declared elections. Censorship was near complete and dissenting voices were silenced, but when the people spoke, they spoke louder than everything else. This is the power of your vote," Modi said.
He urged the people of India to take a pledge to become proactive and ensure the registration of the maximum as voters and their participation in every single election from the local body to Lok Sabha elections.
He also emphasised that getting a voter card did not mean you are a voter, and therefore, it was essential to complete all required formalities to exercise the right to vote
He concluded by urging eligible NRI voters to come to India to cast their vote on the day of polling.
"One of our several endeavours to make Mision272+ a success is to reach out to as many voters be it new, registered and eligible but unregistered and connect with them. I urge you all to show your support to Mission272+ by SMS-ing your EPIC/ Election Voter ID to 0 78200 78200. Do the same with family members and friends," he said.