Goa will become the first state in the country to opt for electronic transmission of postal ballot to service voters in the upcoming Assembly polls, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Syed Nasim Zaidi said today. “The returning officers will transfer the postal ballots to service voters by electronic means so that the service voters can download it, fill it and send it via e-mail to returning officer,” Zaidi told reporters here after reviewing prep redness for the February 4 polls.
He said sending ballot papers through electronic means will cut down the time in transmission of postal ballot to the service voters.
“We hope that a large number of service voters will be able to utilise this facility. This would be the first in the region and around the globe. That is a matter of great pride for all of us,” he said.
Goa has 822 service voters who are either in the defence, para-military forces or on diplomatic missions.
He said Goa would also be the first state where all assembly constituencies will be covered by (VVPAT) Voter- Verified Paper Audit Trail machines.
“This will be used all over the state to ensure transparency of the process to the voter. It will assure the voter that his vote has gone to the right candidate,” he said.
The CEC also said the commission has initiated few IT-based initiatives.
“There is one scheme called Samadhan to address to complaints. It has been working well and political parties have expressed their satisfaction,” he said.
“With regard to permission clearance system Suvidha, we have already directed to improve the working of permission system. We assure that political parties that their permission applications would receive attention,” Zaidi added.
Meanwhile, in order to ensure that the polling takes place in a free and fair manner, a slew of measures have been taken up by the ECI like strict vigil on casinos, state borders and the airport.
“There was a fear that casinos can be misused with respect to cash withdrawal and distribution. This morning itself we have reviewed with the state administration and Director General of Police and in particular we have roped in senior officials from Karnataka and Goa,” Zaidi said.
“Director General of Investigations was here who along with his team in Goa and Karnataka and with co-operation from state administration, he is working on a strategy, entry and exit from casinos, movement of loose cash, setting up of static surveillance team, flying squads and certain action by Income Tax department,” he said.
Zaidi said Air Intelligence unit has been set up at the Dabolim international airport to check movement of money or any undesirable elements through air. “I-T department is keeping special eye on clandestine currency exchanges and the movement of money through banking channels. We have directed returning officers that affidavits filed by candidates must be uploaded so that officials can carry out real time scrutiny of these affidavits under I-T laws,” he added.
On law and order arrangements, Zaidi said adequate number of para military personnel will be deployed in the state by January 25 to maintain the law and order.
“Special surveillance would be mounted on cross border movement of liquor, money and gifts. The DGP has been asked to take effective action against anti-social elements, proclaimed offenders and any other criminal person who can be used by the party or candidate to intimidate them,” he said.
Zaidi, who had discussion with various representatives of political parties, said that some of them have drawn attention that certain government schemes are being used to neither threatened or convince voters.
“The commission has taken a serious note of these suggestion and issues,” he said.
In order to check misuse of liquor, excise department has to launch a special drive to control use of liquor to influence voters, he said.
Zaidi said ECI is determined that there should be strict control on use of money, liquor and gifts during the election process, and therefore, it has reviewed with many enforcement agencies including Income Tax authorities, banks, Narcotics department, Customs, Excise department and Commercial Tax authority and police.
A total of 80 flying squads and 21 static surveillance teams are working round the clock, he said, adding that the vehicles engaged in poll works are fitted with GPS device.
“Standard operating procedure would be activated towards the end of polling process. Central para military forces would be deployed to assist our surveillance teams,” added Zaidi.