The government may soon issue rules on linking the Aadhar card with the voter list. Under these rules, it will be voluntary for voters to share Aadhaar details, but those who do not will have to give “adequate reasons”.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said that the government can soon issue rules on linking the Aadhar card with the voter list. He said it would be voluntary for voters to share Aadhaar details, but those who did not would have to give “adequate reasons”. Chandra also said that the Election Commission played a key role in accelerating the vaccination campaign in five states where assembly elections were held in March this year. He said that this was done to ensure that voters and those involved in election duty are safe from the corona virus. Chandra is retiring on Saturday evening.
He said in an interview that the two major electoral reforms that took place during his tenure as CEC were provision of providing four dates in a year to register voters who are 18 years of age, and to check fake entries in the electoral rolls. This includes linking Aadhar card with the voter list. Chandra said, “Earlier, January 1 was the cut-off date every year. We assured the government that this reform is very necessary and these people should be registered at the earliest as they have turned 18. With this improvement, now those people who have turned 18 years will get four dates in a year for registration. This reform was pending for the last 20 years.
Till now people who turned 18 on or before January 1 could register as a voter. With this, people who turned 18 on or after January 2 had to wait a year to register as voters. But now once the rules are issued, young people can register as voters on four different dates every year.
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He said, “The second biggest reform is to link Aadhaar with the voter list so that fake entries can be checked. This will make the voter list clean and make it more robust.
When will the rules come?
Asked when the government will notify the rules, Chandra said, “I think very soon… as we have already sent a draft proposal in this regard. We have also sent the forms in which changes are to be made and these are with the Law Ministry. I think they will be approved very soon. We have also strengthened our IT system.
When asked whether sharing of Aadhaar details would be voluntary, he replied in the affirmative. “It will be voluntary,” he said. But voters will have to give sufficient reason for not giving their Aadhaar number. For this reason, there may be non-availability of Aadhaar or not applying for the same or any other reason.
Chandra believes that sharing of Aadhaar number will help in making the voter list error-free. This will also ensure that the Election Commission provides more services to the voters through its communication system.
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What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Asked about the biggest challenge as a CEC, he said the most “difficult” challenge was to hold assembly elections and various by-elections in five states during Kovid-19. He said, “Because when the time of elections was approaching, we never thought at that time that the cases of Kovid would start increasing. Suddenly we came to know about the new form of corona virus, Omicron. We had to prepare because no one knew much about this form. So all of a sudden we had to make preparations to make the voting process and electoral system safe.” During this, the Election Commission intensified the process of vaccination and gave a booster dose to its election personnel, including the security forces.
Asked whether the Election Commission was responsible for speeding up the vaccination campaign in the five states, Chandra said, “Definitely. In the states where it was less… especially in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, we reviewed the situation and asked the chief secretaries and health secretaries to intensify the vaccination campaign.
He said, “Every person should have been given at least one dose. If the first dose is taken, then the second dose was to be given. In Uttar Pradesh 100% people took the first dose. The vaccination rate was also increased in Punjab and Manipur. We have taken all possible steps to prevent the spread of Omicron during elections in these states so that voters and voting process are safe.
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