Line replaces dot as democracy mark | india | Hindustan Times
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Line replaces dot as democracy mark

A black line will replace the little black dot on left forefinger, which has been the mark of democracy for so long, writes Sutirtho Patranobis.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 10:22 IST

Till now, a little black dot on the left forefinger was the mark of democracy. Though officials claimed it was made with “indelible ink”, bogus voters proved it otherwise as they rubbed off the tiny mark in haste before turning up to cast a second vote. Not any more.

The Poll panel has seen to that. The dot will be replaced by a black line stretching from the tip of the left forefinger to the first finger joint.

Reacting to complaints that the ink mark was not permanent, the Election Commission has changed the 54-year-old rule on how electoral officers apply the ink mark on a voter's finger. It will be introduced in the coming assembly elections in four states and a Union territory inApril-May.

A pilot project was conducted in a by-election after the order was passed in February.

"The ink we use is silver nitrate, which gets darker in light," said an EC official. "People removed the small mark by scrubbing it immediately after it was put." It wouldn't be that easy with the almost inch-long line.

Electoral officers have also been directed to keep a close watch on voters as they approach the electronic voting machine after being marked.

"If someone is seen rubbing off the mark, the officer will put the line for a second time,'' the official added.

Mysore Paints and Varnish, a Karnataka government undertaking, has the manufacturing rights to the indelible ink, as it is officially called. But it was first manufactured by Delhi-based National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

When the EC went back to NPL to produce a permanent marker, they came up with a cumbersome procedure: first apply a fixer solution on the finger and then apply the ink. The EC decided the line was better.