Meghalaya News 24 exclusive
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is all gear up to introduce the e- Elector’s Photo Identity Card or e-EPIC on January 25.
Informing this on Monday, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Fedrick Roy Kharkongor said, “The ECI, which has been in the forefront of technological innovations, will be announcing the introduction of the e-EPIC on the National Voters’ Day.”
He said the e-EPIC is a very innovative measure whereby each and every elector can download it on his/her mobile phone through the voter App, which is known as a virtual EPIC.
“So far, we have seen when it comes to the EPIC it’s only in the form of a hard copy card and sometimes we tend to misplace or we tend to lose it but now the e-EPIC will be available at a click of a button from your voter App,” Kharkongor said.
“It will be safe and secure as it will be placed in a DigiLocker, which is a virtual locker so you’ll have your Pincode to open the DigiLocker so that from the point of view of safety and security also, it will be safe and only you will be able to access that through a pin which was kept in the DigiLocker. There will also be a QR code which will be part of the system, to make the system more secure and also free from a data breach or any kind of manipulation. This is one of the very innovative steps which the ECI is taking and it will be announced on January 25,” he added.
The introduction of the e-EPIC is also in line with this year’s theme of the National Voters’ Day which is to make voters empowered, vigilant, safe and informed.
The CEO further said that the introduction of the e-EPIC will not only offers technical solutions to lakhs and lakhs of voters but it will also be a convenient tool as part of voters’ welfare.
Asked, Kharkongor said awareness will be generated in the rural areas through the common service centres (CSCs) to make the rural voters aware about this new initiative of the commission.
“Nowadays even banking also in the rural areas happen through the internet so now mobile technology, banking facility, gas, more and more of the important utilities are coming under the umbrella of technology now. So I think the rural people will also not find it a problem to cope up with this, in fact, they will find it more convenient, they will not have to travel long distances to get their EPIC card as now it will be in the palm of their hands and at the click of a button,” he said.
On being asked if the department is targeting to achieve a 100 percent e-EPIC in the state, the CEO said, “Yes. Initially, it will be targeted at the sub-divisional and district capitals and big urban clusters, then slowly, slowly we will try to go for a universal coverage but that of course is a gradual process, but this January 25, it will be a launching of that, so as with everything else it will be taken up gradually.”
To another query, Kharkongor however said he cannot say that the hard copy EPIC will be totally phased out but it will co-exist for the benefit of the users.
“Basically I can say we are going for a blended approach. Just like for currency also now though we are using credit cards, though we are doing online transactions but the currency still remains. So here also, that hard copy will still remain but however this is another service being added for the benefit of the voters,” he asserted.
Admitting that the issue of cyber fraud is a concern, the CEO however said it will be secured through a variety of measures and that not everyone can just access it.
“This is a very encrypted kind of a platform…each of the voter will have it available in his/her virtual locker where he/she will have the pin, so not everyone can just access it. There are more security features that will be embedded. I am sure from the Commission they’re working towards making it more and more secure,” he stated.