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Over 16 million young voters to get smart NID cards by next year
The Election Commission will provide over 16 million young voters with smart National Identity (NID) cards at the end of 2018 as part of its plan to complete the distribution of the machine readable cards among all voters before the next national election.
As a first step, however, to meet up the new voters’ immediate needs, the EC will provide the existing laminated NID cards for a temporary period to some 11.8 million young voters who were included in the country’s electoral roll after the 2014 parliamentary elections.
But eventually the EC would replace those (11.8 million) with the smart ones and also provide the smart NID cards to 4.3 million more expected new voters by the end of next year.
The Commission on October 1, 2016 started the distribution of 90 million smart NID cards to replace laminated NID cards across the country by June 2017, but failed to do so within the deadline.
The number of the country's voters increased to some 101.8 million, which will go up further at nearly 105 million in January 2018 when the updated electoral rolls will be published incorporating some 4.3 million possible voters and dropping 1.5 million dead voters.
“All voters will be provided with smart NID cards before the 11th national election,” said EC acting secretary Helaluddin Ahmed.
The fresh voters who were registered as voters after 2014 but did not get NID cards will also be given laminated NID cards for a temporary period, he told UNB on Saturday.
“The Commission has a plan to provide the new voters with smart NID cards at the end of the next year,” the EC acting secretary said.
The distribution of the smart cards now continues in all the city corporations except Gazipur and Narayanganj.
As part of the plan to complete the distribution by December 2018, it’ll start providing voters with smart NID cards in 31 districts across the country on December 1 next.
Meanwhile on Sunday the CEC K M Nurul Huda formally launched the distribution of the machine readable cards in Narayanganj City Corporation. The distribution of the same will begin in Gazipur City Corporation from Tuesday (November 28).
With a view to expediting the distribution process, the Commission is procuring more fingerprint machines and Image Recognition Intelligence Software (IRIS) scanners.
“Procurement of 2,000 IRIS scanners and 2,000 fingerprint machines is underway,” Director General of the National Identity Registration Wing of the EC Secretariat Brig Gen Mohammad Saidul Islam told media adding that the Commission now has some 500 IRIS scanners and some 500 fingerprint machines.
The Commission in 2011 worked out a plan to provide the smart cards under the Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) project, which is jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the government of Bangladesh.
The EC in January 2015 signed a contact with French digital security company, 'Oberthur Technologies' for the production and distribution of 90 million smart NID cards by June 2016.
But the deadline was subsequently extend till June 2017 as the French company failed to send smart NID cards to upazila election offices across the country within the first deadline.
Within the extended deadline of June 2017, the French company sent some 70 million blank cards, while personalised only 12.41 million cards and supplied 10.98 million to upazila election offices.
Blaming Oberthur Technologies for the little progress it made in this regard, the EC did not extend the project period and realized Tk 140 crore as compensation from the company.
The EC continues the process of smart card distribution depending on local experts after personalising the blank cards.