18 year old youth will get 4 times a year
He said that the two major electoral reforms that took place during his tenure as CEC were the provision of providing four dates in a year for registration of voters who have attained the age of 18 years and Aadhaar to check fake entries in the electoral rolls. Linking the card to the voter list. Chandra said that earlier every year January 1 was the cut-off date. We assured the government that this reform is very necessary. These people should be registered as soon as they are 18 years old. With this improvement, now those people who have attained the age of 18 years will get four dates in a year for registration. This reform was pending for the last 20 years.
Voter list will be clean, more robust
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 a voter. But now once the rules are in place, young people can register as voters on four different dates every year. He said that 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 more robust.
Aadhaar-Voter ID linking not mandatory, optional: Law Minister
The proposal has reached the Law Ministry
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. Asked whether sharing of Aadhaar details would be voluntary, he replied in the affirmative. He said it would be voluntary. 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.
Election was the toughest challenge in 5 states during the Corona period
Chandra believes that sharing of Aadhaar numbers will help in making the electoral rolls error-free. This will also ensure that the Election Commission provides more services to the voters through its communication system. Asked about the biggest challenge as a CEC, he said that the most ‘difficult’ challenge was to hold assembly elections in five states and various by-elections during Kovid-19.
The Election Commission had accelerated the vaccination process
He said, “Because when the time of elections was approaching, we never thought 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 the electoral system safe.” In the meantime, the Election Commission intensified the process of vaccination and gave a booster dose to its election personnel, including the security forces.
Ensured safe keeping of voters and voting process
Asked whether the Election Commission was responsible for speeding up the vaccination campaign in five states, Chandra said, “Definitely”. In the states where it was less… especially Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, we reviewed the situation and asked the Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries to intensify the vaccination campaign. He said each 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. Immunization rates were 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 the voting process are safe.