Centre issues notification on linking Aadhaar with voter ID
According to an official notification from the Ministry of Law and Justice, the central government has notified the rules permitting the integration of Aadhaar numbers with voter IDs. The ministry stated in a gazette notification dated Friday (June 17) that the changes were made after due deliberations with the Election Commission of India (ECI) to undertake due electoral reforms.
Why does this story matter?
- The central government, on the other hand, has defended the move claiming that linking Aadhaar with voter identities was critical to eliminating fake and redundant voter cards, thereby making elections fair and transparent.
The government has undertaken four electoral reforms
The central government has amended the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, to implement four electoral reforms effective August 2022. In addition to linking Aadhaar with electoral data, the central government has allowed new voters to get registered four times a year, rather than once, and has replaced the word "wife" with "spouse," making the form more gender-neutral.
Official statement over the development
Earlier on Friday, the Law Minister of India, Kiren Rijiju, took to Twitter to announce the four government decisions. "A citizen who turns 18 on the January 1 or April 1 or July 1 or October 1 in a calendar year can immediately apply for voter registration. The four qualifying dates will considerably enhance the voter base," Rijiju stated on Twitter.
Government says linking 'voluntary'; critics say there's no choice
Although the government has stated linking Aadhaar numbers to voter IDs is voluntary, experts have noted that there is no opt-out option. "There's an absence of choice in the forms... The only exception is for those who 'don't have an Aadhaar number.' Any false declaration is liable to prosecution. Hence, there is a mandatory provision for Aadhaar with electoral rolls," Internet Freedom Foundation stated.
It's a dangerous law that will undermine electoral democracy: Expert
"It is a dangerous law that will undermine electoral democracy; free and fair elections; individual privacy. We have no data protection law. The one under consideration is leaky as a sieve," Apar Gupta of Internet Freedom Foundation stated in December when the law was passed.
Aadhaar linking will not be mandatory, detailed guidelines soon: Official
Meanwhile, a senior ECI official reportedly reiterated that providing Aadhaar for voter verification will be completely voluntary. The functionary stated, "The EC will issue detailed guidelines for this purpose." Similarly, it will not be mandatory for any citizen to fill out the Aadhaar details on electronic forms for voter registration, address changes, etc., as per reports. However, detailed guidelines are awaited from the government.
What are other alternative documents to authenticate voter ID?
If a person doesn't have an Aadhaar number, they can authenticate their voter ID by providing a copy of any of the 11 alternative documents. These include MGNREGA job card; bank passbook with photo; driving license; PAN card; Indian passport; health insurance smart card; pension documents; government-issued service identity card; official identity card issued to MPs, MLAs, and MLCs; Social Ministry-issued Unique Identity cards.