Rules for linking Aadhaar to voter lists (voter ID) could be issued by the government soon, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said, adding that sharing Aadhaar details will be voluntary for voters, but those who do not will have to give “sufficient”. reasons”.
Mr Chandra, who will step down from office tomorrow night, also said the polling panel played a key role in stepping up the vaccination campaign in the five states where parliamentary elections ended in March this year to ensure that voters and those involved in mandatory election were safe from the coronavirus.
In an interview with Press Trust of India, he said two major electoral reforms that took place in his tenure as Chief Election Commissioner are providing four dates in a year instead of one to enroll and link those who turn 18 as voters. van Aadhaar with electoral rolls to check duplicate entries on the electoral roll.
“Previously, only January 1 of each year was the cut-off date. We convinced the government that this reform is very essential and that these people should be enrolled as soon as they turn 18. With this reform, there will now be four dates in a year for this people to register when they are 18. This reform has been pending for the last 20 years,” said Mr Chandra.
The four registration closing dates are part of a bill passed by parliament a few months ago to link Aadhaar to the electoral rolls.
From now on, those who turn 18 on or before January 1, can register as voters. Anyone turning 18 on January 2 or later must wait a year to register as a voter. But once the rules are enacted, young people will be able to register as voters on four different dates each year.
“The second biggest reform is linking Aadhaar to electoral rolls to check for duplicate entries. It will clean the electoral roll. It will make the electoral roll more robust,” he said.
When asked when the government will announce the rules, Mr Chandra said: “I think very quickly because we have already sent draft proposals in this regard. We have also sent the forms to be amended and they are at the (legal) Ministry I think they will be cleaned up very soon. We will also have to strengthen our IT system.”
Whether sharing Aadhaar data will be voluntary, he replied positively. “It will be voluntary. But voters will have to provide sufficient reason not to give up their Aadhaar numbers. The reason may be that they do not have Aadhaar or have not applied for some reason they can think of. can’t think of any other reason,” said the polling station head.
Mr Chandra believed that sharing the Aadhaar number will help the Election Commission to clear the electoral roll. It will also allow the polling station to provide more services to voters through its communications system, he added.
“If we know the voter better, we can provide more services such as when the elections will be held and the state (details) on their phone numbers… We need to know clearly that he/she is the right person,” said Mr. Chandra .
Asked about the biggest challenge he faced as Chief Election Commission, he said the “toughest” was holding elections in five states and several polls during COVID-19.
“Because when this election was coming up, we never thought at the time that Covid would intensify. Suddenly we learned about the origin of Omicron. We had to prepare because nobody knew much about this variant.
“So suddenly we had to prepare to make the voting process and the election machine safe,” he added.
During this period, the Election Commission stepped up the vaccination process and provided additional (precautionary) doses to its polling stations, including security forces.
“We had to take the unusual step of phasing out physical campaigns. Initially, we said only door-to-door campaigns with just five people will be allowed and there will be more emphasis on digital campaigns,” recalls the lord Chandra himself.
“We had regular meetings with health secretaries and chief secretaries of states. We asked them to step up vaccination and we monitored closely every week. We gave a very nuanced response to our campaign methodology. We opened it gradually. elections began, vaccination rates were very high in all five states, and voters had received the first or second dose according to protocol,” he added.
Mr Chandra replied positively when asked whether it was the Election Commission that had been responsible in some way for stepping up the vaccination campaign in the five states.
“Absolutely. In states where it was especially less so like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, we have looked at the situation and asked the main sectaries and the health secretaries to step up the vaccination campaign.
“Everyone should have taken at least the first dose. Once the first dose had been administered, the second should have been given. In Uttar Pradesh, the coverage of the first dose was 100 percent. The vaccination rate in Punjab and Manipur also went up. We have every possible step has been taken to control the spread of Omicron during the elections in these states so that voters and the voting process can be safe,” he said.
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