Goa to be the first in India to have a Poll Monitoring System

Goa will become the first state in the country to implement the poll monitoring system (PMS) in the entire state in the March 2012 assembly elections.

Addressing media persons on Wednesday, North Goa district election officer (DEO) Mihir Vardhan said voters at every booth in all 40 constituencies will be photographed on web cameras attached to computers and also digitally fingerprinted. Besides reducing the workload substantially, PMS is expected to help in preventing impersonation and bogus voting.

All the computers will also be networked and connected to a central server from where voting trends at all booths will be monitored. Whether to upload these details in real time on the internet is still under the consideration of election authorities.

Goa was the first state in the country to implement PMS at the Valpoi by-election in October 2010 and later on in the civic elections for the Corporation of the City of Panaji. “The poll monitoring system was a success in both elections and the election commission of India has now approved it to be implemented for the full state. Goa will be the first state to implement PMS,” Vardhan said.

While the election commission of India has approved an expenditure of Rs 1.84 crore for the hardware required for the system, all political parties in Goa have agreed to the implementation. The fingerprinting and photography of each voter is expected to take 40 seconds. Vardhan said election authorities in Goa have taken care to ensure that one polling station has a maximum of 800 voters to prevent delay in voting. Still, as a precautionary measure, the Goa chief electoral officer has requested the election commission of India to allow one more hour of voting in Goa. Voting will therefore be held from 7am to 5pm instead of from 8am.

The North Goa district election officer has also requested for 15 companies of paramilitary forces for North Goa and expects a similar force to be requested for South Goa. Vardhan said the election machinery has identified 77 sensitive and hypersensitive polling stations in North Goa and will take appropriate steps to prevent any untoward incident there.

Vardhan said that in vulnerable areas like Chimbel and St Cruz, a sector officer will be deployed to talk to voters and convince them to come out to vote without fear.

The DEO’s office has already done a first-level check on 1,132 electronic voting machines. Repairs have been initiated on some of the 946 polling stations in North Goa to provide toilet facilities and fresh drinking water to voters. A total of 6,500 polling personnel will be deployed on election duties in North Goa and training programmes are being conducted for these. The election commission of India will deploy 415 expenditure observers for the 23 constituencies in North Goa other than the 11 general observers for North Goa district.

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