If all goes as planned, voters in Ghaziabad and Lucknow might be armed with coloured voter ID cards when they go to cast their ballot in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The new, smarter cards with clear colour photos of voters, would help weed out impersonators, the foremost reason for the initiative.
A proposal that this be taken up as a pilot project in the Uttar Pradesh capital and in Ghaziabad, adjoining the national capital, has been sent to the Election Commission of India by the chief electoral office in the state.
Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said his office was awaiting the green signal from the Election Commission to change from the black and white voter ID cards.
The existing cards have poor quality photographs and other flaws, making identification of the 'real' voter a problem, Sinha said.
The idea is to move to "standardised modern IDs that are sleek and trendy", he added.
During the pilot phase, no chip would be inserted, but the poll panel does not rule out such appendages and biometrics in the future.
The state commission is also trying to issue cards 'then and there' from Citizen Service Centres (Jan Suvidha Kendras).
The idea is to cut the long waiting time from the time of application to the delivery of the card, Sinha said.
This will be done in phases - first at the tehsil (sub-district) and then by creating voter registration centres at the block, kasba and district levels. Hopefully soon, a person could walk into a service centre, give either a passport, driving licence, PAN card or the official ID card issued by an employer and get a voter ID card pronto.
Initially, Sinha said, an ID from public sector undertakings or the like would be considered for the snap card service.
Other initiatives are already under way.
In its bid to identify and connect more polling booths, 75,000 polling booths have already been mapped through the geo-information systems (GIS) that would enable voters to locate their booths on the net. The remaining 130,000 polling booths would be covered before the next Lok Sabha elections, scheduled in 2014, Sinha said.
Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, has 127.3 million registered voters, a figure that is estimated to go up to 130 million by 2014.