Having passed a landmark bill which makes voting mandatory in local body elections last month, Gujarat may now allow voters to exercise their right to franchise through SMS or internet in municipal and panchayat elections.

The State Election Commission (SEC), a watchdog for elections in local bodies is working on introducing voting through SMS or internet in municipal and panchayat elections, an Election official said.

“We have suggested the concept of voting by SMS and through internet to the state government,” Election Commissioner (Gujarat) K C Kapoor told PTI.

“Though it is at a discussion stage but we are very serious about it. We have suggested to the government that once we get the go ahead signal, a task force comprising of experts from the state and outside and government officials would be set up,” he said.

“This task force would then deliberate on the details of this concept and the IT infrastructure needed for the online voting system. We have also suggested some names for the task force, now the final approval of the state government was awaited,” Mr. Kapoor said.

“Some local body elections are to be held by the end of 2010, we hope that the system could be implemented by that time,” he said.

Mr. Kapoor said that the basic plan for the system was ready but fine details are yet to be chalked out.

When countries like US and UK could use online voting during their elections why can’t we, he said.

Mr. Kapoor said the objective of introducing online system was to increase the voters’ participation by making the procedure simpler and speedier.

“But at the same time we need to be cautious about online hacking and other ways to temper the online system. Robust security measures are needed for this system,” he said, adding that the servers which would store the data need to be able to recognise each voter and accept on the genuine votes and reject the fake ones.

Even if we are not able to implement the idea at a larger scale we would like to implement it as a pilot project on experimental basis, Mr. Kapoor said.