Careful on cards issue

Parliament Wednesday passed a Motion calling for merger of the national identity card and the voters card. If effected, it would mean that one holding an ID card would not have to register for a different card in order to vote.

The Private Member’s Motion passed unanimously and with support from the Government. But the implementation must not be rushed before all factors are taken into consideration.

One issue is that inclusion in the voters’ roll is voluntary. The Roll includes only those who specifically seek to be registered to vote. By contrast, the national identity card is not optional, but mandatory for all citizens over 18 years.

If the idea is adopted, will it mean that the ID cards’ register then doubles up as a voters’ roll?
Registration for voters card also gives one many options of constituency and ward in which to register, not limited to the narrow confines of place of birth or home area.

Will it mean that if one wants to change his or her voting station, it will mean applying for a new ID?
These are just some of the questions that arise.

There may well be more fundamental issues revolving around the planned project involving the design and issue of new-generation identity cards. That will be a mammoth and very costly undertaking.

In this generation, there is need to consider whether multiple cards and documents – including passport, driving licence, social security, health insurance, PIN card – can be replaced by one ‘‘smart card’’.

The technology exists, and if the voting card proposal is to be implemented, it must not be looked at in isolation.

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