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'Rules on linking Aadhaar with electoral rolls can be issued soon'

Rules on linking Aadhaar with electoral rolls can be issued soon

New Delhi: Rules on linking Aadhaar with the electoral rolls can be issued by the government soon, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra has said, adding that sharing Aadhaar details will be voluntary for voters, but those not doing so will have to give "sufficient reasons."

Chandra, who demits office on Saturday evening, also said that the poll panel played a key role in intensifying the vaccination drive in the five states where assembly elections concluded in March this year to ensure that voters and those involved in election duty were safe from the coronavirus.

He said that two major electoral reforms which took place in his tenure as the CEC are the provision of four dates in a year instead of one to enrol those turning 18 as voters and the linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls to check duplicate entries in the voters' list.

"Earlier, only January 1 of every year was the cut-off date. We convinced the government that this reform is very essential and these people should be enrolled as soon as they turn 18. With this reform now, there will be four dates in a year to get these people registered when they complete 18 years of age. This reform was pending for the last 20 years," Sushil Chandra said.

The four cut-off dates for enrolment is part of a Bill passed by Parliament a few months back to allow linkage of Aadhaar with electoral rolls.

As of now, those turning 18 on or before January 1 can be registered as voters. Those who turn 18 on January 2 or later have to wait for one year to register as a voter. But once the rules are issued, young people can get registered as voters on four different dates every year.

"The second biggest reform is the linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls to check duplicate entries. It will make voter list pure. It will make the electoral roll more robust," he said.

Asked when the rules will be notified by the government, Chandra said "I think very soon because we have already sent draft proposals in this regard. We have also sent the forms which are to be changed and they are with the (law) ministry. Very soon, I think they will be cleared. We will also have to tone up our IT system."

On whether sharing Aadhaar details will be voluntary, he replied in positive.

"It will be voluntary. But sufficient reason will have to be given by voters for not giving their Aadhaar numbers. The reason may include not having an Aadhaar or not having applied for one or any other reason they can think of. I can not think of any other reason," the CEC said said.

Chandra was of the view that sharing Aadhaar number will help the EC to purify the voter list."If we know about the voter more clearly, then we can give more services such as when the elections will be held and booth on their phone numbers... We should know clearly that he is the right person," he said.

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