The Union government on Friday issued a notification to allow linking electoral roll data with Aadhaar.
What is the rule?
The move allows electoral registration officers to ask forAadhaar numbers of citizens who want to register as voters to establish their identity.
This linkage could serve to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places.
However a person wanting to register as a voter will not be denied due to their inability to provide their Aadhaar number.
Sharing Aadhaar details will be voluntary but those not doing so will have to give “sufficient reasons”.
Civil liberty concerns
Activists are concerned that linking them with voter cards could lead to voters being excluded from the rolls and compromise the privacy of their data.
Further, the plan could lead to “mass disenfranchisement” since rigorous identification requirements act as a barrier to people being able to exercise their right to vote.
This essentially amounts to voter suppression, which goes against the constitutional right to political participation.
Organisations working in civil rights, electoral reform, academic and digital rights had said that any proposals to link Aadhaar and electoral rolls would need careful and considerable public consultation.
2015 Project outcomes
In March 2015, the Election Commission had launched a nationwide project to link Aadhaar to voter ID cards.
A month before that, it had run a pilot project in Telangana.
However this was stopped after a Supreme Court judgement that issued restrictions on the purposes for which Aadhaar could be used.
Voter identification was not among the purposes.
However, during the project, state election commissions were found to have used data collected for other schemes without consent.
Additional dates for registration
Now, a citizen after turning 18 can apply for voter registration on four occasions – January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.
Previously, January 1 was the only cut-off date to register as a voter.
The addition of new dates will considerably enhance the voter base, said Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.