Election Commission allows 17-year-olds to register in advance for voters’ list enrolment

Those above the age of 17 can now apply in advance for getting enrolled in the voters’ list and need not wait to fulfil the pre-requisite criterion of attaining the age of 18 years on January 1 of a year, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced Thursday.

The electoral roll will be updated every quarter and eligible youngsters can be registered in the next quarter of the year in which they have attained the qualifying age of 18 years, according to the ECI.

The ECI, led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, has directed the CEOs/EROs/AEROs of all states to work out tech-enabled solutions such that the youth are facilitated to file their advance applications with reference to three subsequent qualifying dates — April 1, July 1, and October 1 – besides January 1, the ECI statement said.

After getting registered, the youngsters will be issued an electoral photo identity card (EPIC), the ECI said.

“For the current round of annual revision of electoral roll, 2023, any citizen attaining the age of 18 years by April 1, July 1 and October 1 of 2023 can also submit an advance application for registration as a voter from the date of draft publication of electoral roll,” the ECI said.

“The Election Commission of India, in pursuance of the legal amendments in the Section 14(b) of the RP Act 1950 and consequent modifications in Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, has initiated the process for bringing about necessary changes for preparation/revision of electoral roll of Assembly/Parliamentary Constituency,” it added.

Earlier this year, following the recommendations of ECI, the law ministry had amended the RP Act to provide for four qualifying dates: January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 as the eligibility for youngsters to register in electoral rolls as opposed to the earlier single qualifying date of only January 1.

“As per existing policy, revision of electoral rolls with reference to 1st January of the coming year as the qualifying date was done normally in the later part of each year in all States/UTs (normally in the last quarter of a year) so that final publication of the electoral rolls is made in the first week of January of the succeeding year. This meant that a large number of young persons who completed 18 years after 1st January had to wait for Special Summary Revision of the next year for enrolment and were not able to participate in elections held in the intervening period,” the ECI said.

The EC said it also made the registration forms more user-friendly and simpler. The newly modified forms will come into force on August 1, 2022. All applications (claims and objections), in old forms, received before the said date will be processed and disposed of and in such cases, there is no need to file application in new forms.

The Commission also ordered annual summary revision with reference to January 1, 2023, as the qualifying date in all States except poll-bound ones.

“All the pre-revision activities are undertaken in accordance with the Commission’s existing instructions and guidelines and Manual on Electoral Roll, 2016, and Manual on Polling Stations, 2020. The revision and pre-revision activities are done in such a manner that the electoral rolls are finally published much before National Voters’ Day (January 25 of every year) so that EPICs generated for new electors especially young voters (18-19 years) can be distributed to them in ceremonial manner on the day of NVD,” it said.

The revision activities, beginning in November, include disposal of claims and objections received after publication of integrated draft electoral roll. The ECI said under the special summary revision, a one-month period is available to file claims and objections in the draft electoral roll. Special camps will be organised by CEOs on weekends for which the date will be publicised by concerned CEOs. The final electoral roll will be published on January 5, 2023.

The ECI said a new polling station would be created only after rationalising the sections to the adjacent polling stations to the possible extent. Other objectives of rationalisation of polling stations are to group all the family members and neighbours in a section, it said.

Provision to link Aadhaar details

The ECI also said that for the linking of Aadhaar number with electoral roll data, a provision has been made in the modified registration forms to seek Aadhaar details of electors. A new Form-6B has also been introduced for collecting Aadhaar number of existing electors.

However, no application for inclusion of name in electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar Number.

“It has been emphasised that while handling Aadhaar number of the applicants, the provision under Section 37 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, must be adhered to. Under no circumstances should it go public. If the electors’ information is required to put for public display, the Aadhaar details must be removed or masked,” it said.

A time-bound drive will begin from August 1 for collection of Aadhaar numbers of the existing electors. Furnishing of Aadhaar number is purely voluntary. Objective of the programme is to establish the identity of electors and authentication of entries in the electoral roll, the ECI added.

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