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Voter ID card Vs National ID card June 13, 2007

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The other day (11.06.07) I was listening to a Live Program on ETV. The guests were two Election Commissioner –one is Mr. Sohul Hussain and the other is Brig. General (Retd) Shakhawat Hussain.

Few journalists were also allowed to ask question directly to them and there were provision for the public to ask questions directly to the guests. The whole program was moderated by Samina Jaman, a well known media producer.

One interesting question which touched me is why Election Commission is thinking of preparing National ID card rather than Voter ID card for which they are dictated by the constitution. The question was raised by more than one journalists and when mediator connected Justice Naimuddin(once an election Commissioner) he also put forward the same question to the guests.

The fact which came out is that the Election Commission is primarily working for voter list and Voter ID card but data that is collected by the process could be utilized to produce the national ID card. Virtually they are preparing a database which in future will be taken up by the other ministries or other organizations and will be utilized to serve many other purposes. So a national ID card would be produced as a bi-product of the database preparation for the election.

It is said that finger prints of the voters would be taken by ‘bio-matrix’ system and be shown along with the photo in the voter ID card.

This ID card will not only be used in casting votes but may be used in many other purposes-such as in opening bank accounts, in getting passports, in getting license from the trade bodies etc.

As the voter ID card is for the voters who are above the age of 18 years, so initiative will be taken in future by other organizations to complete the ID card for all.

We appreciate the idea. Bangladesh is becoming more digital and more scientific.


Post script:

29 June 2007

Recently I have read an Interview of the Chairperson of ‘Bela’ , an NGO in Daily Prothom Alo where she told that EC should better prepare the Voter ID card , not the National ID. She told that it wii not be possible to complete the National ID card by 18 months.

We khow that Experts with whom the EC has consultaed opined that the procedure for both National ID and Voter ID is almost same. It willl take no Extra time and it is possible to complete the work within 18 months of time frame.

People with minimum knowledge on digital technology will not differ with the experts.

3 Dec 2007

Controversy over the Voter and National ID card gradually faded away. Both EC and Government were committed to the decision and gradually different areas of the country are being covered by the ID card program. After completion of the port city, Chittagong voter registration with photography is started at Dhaka.

Chief Election Commissioner is pleased with the progress of the work and hope to complete the task earlier than expected. He also declared that EC will present an election this time that the nation will feel proud of.

The ordinary citizen also became listed as voter and he enjoyed the total process- the Registration worker (school teacher) came to the house and recored the data in a sheet, took the signature and took the impression of the fingers. Then few days later, for photography he and his family had to go the camp equipped with laptop and camera. The data were checked and picture was taken along with digital impression of fingers.

22 January 2008

Yesterday I was listening to an ‘expert’ in an interview who was talking against the recording of the fingerprints by biometrix system. He argues that it is taking extra time to complete the process and finger prints may not be evident in many persons who work hard with their hands.

The ordinary citizen believes that even with the few lapses, fingerprints by the biometrix technology will help in many ways to prevent false voting, to identify criminals, to confirm one’s identity in the matter of disputes, etc.

25 January 2008

Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Shamsul Huda Chowdhury was saying to the journalists that the voter list that they are preparing will be national database, the benefit of which will be felt when all the works will be completed.

26 January 2008

The Election Commission has floated the voter list in the web at http://www.voterlist.gov.bd for correction by the voters themselves by using their pin numbers. Now the voter list of Dhaka has been given and time allowed for correction is 15 days. The voter list of other areas will be displayed gradually.

18 Feb 2008

The EC has undertaken special drive o f10 days to include the elders, ill and disabled people in the voter list after completion of the normal voter listing in the Dhaka city, which will be gradually extended to the other areas. A relative of a jaundice patient was rather excited when she saw the field personnels of the EC came to the hospital to list her relative in the voter list (a TV channel).

EC also arranged to include the inmates of the jails to be listed in the voter list and it is decided that that voting camp will be stationed in the jails for the inmates.

Hope that EC would be careful not to include the inmates who couldn’t be voter as per law. They may be included in the national database.

4 Mach 2008

EC declared that they have crossed 50% of the voter list by this time and they are 1 month ahead of the schedule.The progress is hailed by the UN representative and others.

8 Mar 08

Government has taken initiative to form a ‘National ID card Registration Body’, first of its kind in Bangladesh to instutionalise the Voter ID and National ID card initiative.

16 March 08

CEC hopes to publish the draft voter list by June 08 which is earlier than the declared roadmap. After June, he hopes to declare the date of national election.

30 Mar 08

5.16 crore (51.6 m) voters, 60% of the total voters, have been registered , another 3 crore will be registered by the end of June 2008, CEC hopes.

25 April 2008
‘The ongoing Voter registration process is of international standard’ says a survey funded by UK Department of International Department (DFID)

‘It is going to be a list of quality no less than that of America or England’ said one of the consultant of the survey titled ‘Monitoring voter listing process and focal group research’

10 May 2008
One Election Commissionar said yesterday that the voter listing will be completed by June and in October they will able to declare the national election schedule.

20 May 2008

It’s a great day for me. Me and my family got the ID card today. Over the card printed ‘National ID Card’ both in English and Bengali. Then my name, my father’s name and mother’s name, my date of bith -no mistake and then at last my ID no. In the opposite page,my address is written down and an authorised signature of EC and a date of delivery. We have to colect it from a school, a make-shift centre for local EC. But I expected it to be delivered at home.

3 June 2008
The Election Commission published full page ad on leading dailies with a big Bangadeshi map in the centre showing the progress of the voter listing in different areas of Bangladesh. It shows that 7 crore of the voters are already listed which covers the 85% of the total voters. EC is expecting to complete the voter list by June and to publish the final complete voter list by October 2008. The Chief Adviser retaliated in a meeting with the business leaders that by December 2008 the election will definitely held.

26 June 2008
Daily Star reports ‘whopping success for EC’, 8 crore voters already registered, electronic database ready.

5 July 2008
EC informed to contact the server rooms for any correction of Voter ID cards and who missed the earlier chances to enlist as voters.

8 July 2008

Bangladesh Election Commission has ubdated their website. It is now nice and informative http://www.ecs.gov.bd/English/

9 July 2008

The voter listing is completed today with 8 crore 5 thousand enlisted as voters throughout the country.

14 July 2008

Prothom Alo editorial termed the Voter list with photograph and ID card as the milestone development in our history.[PA]

22 July 2008

on successful completion of the voter listing and ID card project a special program has been arranged today in Hotel Raddison in Dhaka where Chief Adviser Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed will be present.

23 July 2008

Successful completion of voter list is done. CA termed the registration of 80 million voters as the milestone on the road to fair polls [DS]

5th September 2008
EC had given 3 days for those who missed to be voter during the regular voter listing.
Tomorrow EC is going to publish the final voter list of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

15th October 2008
The final voter list of 8.11 crore handed over to Election Commission […]