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India’s cabinet okays proposal to have Aadhaar biometrics linked with voter IDs

 

A proposed bill seeking to reform certain provisions of India’s electoral law, dubbed the Representation of the People Act, is likely to be submitted to Parliament any time in the future after it got the nod of the Union cabinet recently, reports The Times of India.

Among the proposed reforms is that to see the Aadhaar number and biometrics linked to the voter identity card of potential voters as part of efforts to fight electoral irregularities such as double entries in the electoral roll.

The report quotes unnamed sources as saying the idea of linking the Aadhaar to the voter ID is for voter authentication purposes and will happen on a voluntary basis.

It further quotes other officials of the electoral commission as explaining that the Aadhaar-voter ID linkage is part of the electoral body’s plans of moving towards a secure and a possible digital voting system to enable migrant voters exercise their civic right even when they are not found in the constituency where they registered at the time of an election.

Meanwhile, as explained in The Times of India report, the bill which has had the green light from cabinet, also makes other proposed reforms. One of them seeks to extend the number of dates for voter registration in the country from one to four each year, meaning people who have attained the age of 18 will not only have January 1 to register for elections, but will also have April 1, July 1, and October 1 every year.

In the other proposal, authorities want to render henceforth gender-neutral a section of the electoral law which states that only the wife of a male voter can register in the same constituency as him.

The fourth proposal, the report indicates, proposes to give the electoral commission the powers to demand and use private premises for purposes other than just establishing polling stations and warehousing ballot boxes and other voting materials.

The idea of linking the Aadhaar to the voter ID was first started in 2015 but it soon hit the rocks following a Supreme Court ruling which imposed restrictions on the use of the biometrics-backed ID number.

This new plan to link the Aadhaar to the voter ID comes as India is already running what has been described as a controversial program which has seen 96 percent of health IDs in the country linked to Aadhaar.

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