Rules on linking Aadhaar with voter rolls may soon be issued by the government, chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra said, adding that sharing Aadhaar’s details will be voluntary for voters, but those who do not will not have to give “sufficient reasons”. .
Chandra, who leaves office on Saturday evening, also said the poll panel had played a key role in stepping up the vaccination campaign in the five states where assembly elections ended in March this year. to ensure that voters and those involved in electoral duty were safe from the coronavirus.
In an interview with PTI, he said that two major electoral reforms that have taken place under his tenure as CEC are the provision of four dates per year instead of one to register 18-year-old voters and the link to Aadhaar with voter lists to check duplicate entries in voter list.
“Previously, only January 1 every year was the deadline. We have convinced the government that this reform is very essential and that these people should be registered as soon as they turn 18. With this reform now, there will be four dates per year to register these people when they turn 18. This reform had been pending for 20 years,” Chandra said.
The four registration deadlines are part of a bill passed by parliament a few months ago to allow Aadhaar to be linked to voter rolls.
From now on, those who turn 18 on or before January 1 can be registered to vote. Those who turn 18 on January 2 or later will have to wait a year to register to vote. But once the rules are published, young people can register to vote on four different dates each year.
”The second biggest reform is the linking of Aadhaar with voter rolls to check for duplicate entries. This will make the voters list pure. This will make the voters list stronger,” he said.
Asked when the rules will be notified by the government, Chandra replied, “I think very soon as we have already sent out draft proposals in this regard. We have also sent the forms that need to be changed and they are at the ministry (of law). Very soon, I think they will be erased. We will also have to tone up our computer system. “As to whether sharing Aadhaar’s details will be voluntary, he replied in the affirmative. ”It will be voluntary. But voters will have to give sufficient reason not to give their Aadhaar number. The reason may include not having an Aadhaar or not applying for whatever reason they can think of. I can’t think of any other reason,” CEC said.
Chandra was of the opinion that sharing the Aadhaar number would help the EC to cleanse the voter list. It will also ensure that the polling committee is able to provide more services to voters through its communication system, he added.
“If we know the voter more clearly, then we can give more services such as when the elections will be held and stand (details) on their phone numbers… We should know clearly that he/she is the right one nobody,” Chandra said.
Asked about the biggest challenge he faced as a CEC, he said the “most difficult” was organizing elections in five states and various polls during COVID-19.
”Because when these elections were approaching, we never thought at that time that the Covid was going to intensify. Suddenly, we learned of the appearance of Omicron. We had to prepare because no one knew much about this variant.
“So suddenly we had to prepare to secure the voting process and the electoral machinery,” he added.
During this period, the EC intensified the vaccination process and ensured booster doses (precaution) for its electoral staff, including security forces.
”We had to take the unusual step of stopping campaigning in physical form. Initially, we said that only door-to-door campaigns with only five people would be allowed and that the focus would be more on digital campaigns,’ Chandra recalled.
”We have had regular meetings with the health secretaries and chief secretaries of states. We have asked them to intensify the vaccination and we have been monitoring closely every week. We gave a very graduated response to our campaign methodology. We opened it gradually. By the time the election campaign began, vaccination uptake was very high in all five states and voters had received the first or second dose as per protocol,” he added.
Chandra said yes when asked if it was the EC that had somehow been responsible for scaling up the vaccination campaign in the five states.
”Definitively. In states where it was particularly less like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, we reviewed the situation and asked the main sects and health secretaries to step up the vaccination campaign.
”Each person should have taken at least the first dose. If the first dose has been administered, the second should be administered. In Uttar Pradesh, the first dose coverage was 100%. The percentage of vaccination in Punjab and Manipur has also increased. We have taken all possible steps to verify the spread of Omicron during elections in these states so that voters and the voting process can be safe,” he said.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)