Egyptian elections will have a ‘made in India’ stain. The country electing its new President, after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak this February, will use indelible ink used as a marker in India since 1952 to prevent multiple voting. It would also be a litmus test for the Indian electoral system, as United Nations wants the Election Commission’s expertise to play a role in conducting polls in 12 Arab countries, which faced popular similar uprisings after Mubarak’s ouster.
A team of the Election Commission (EC) made a presentation to the officials of the newly set up election management bodies of Arab countries, with 728 million voters, in Cairo earlier this month. “Countries such as Lebanon and Algeria showed great interest on use of satellite and SMS service for conducting elections,” said Akshay Rout, a director general in the commission.
There was lot of interest in how India enrolls voters and its latest campaign to attract young voters and increase voter participation in elections, after only 40 % voters participated in the Egyptian referendum this March, despite huge public support for Mubarak’s ouster. Although the EC is sharing its election management strategy, the election management body of Egypt has specifically asked for samples of the indelible ink, for mock drills before Presidential elections in September and for General Elections in early 2012. Egypt also expressed a desire to acquire Indian Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) when Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S Y Quraishi visited Egypt in April, but it may not be possible. Most of the EVMs have data of the just concluded polls in five states, which the commission has to keep for at least six months. “We have given them two EVMs if they want to develop prototypes,” Rout said.
Indelible ink has no such issues, as the public sector Mysore Paints and Varnish limited produces the ink and commission officials said they are willing to supply it to Egypt. Samples have already been sent. Egypt would be second major country after Afghanistan where Indian indelible ink, which remains on the finger for 72 hours, will be used to mark voters. The samples of the ink have been supplied to over 20 countries. The commission officials say after Egypt’s elections they may have to play a major advisory role in conducting elections in the 12 other Arab nations gearing for polls sometime next year.