The government is likely to make legal amendments soon to ensure linkage of Aadhaar with the voter ID. The amendment will allow the Election Commission (EC) to link unique identification numbers with the electoral roll and ensure the remote voting rights to migrant voters. With remote voting, the migrant workers can vote from anywhere in the country. The panel is also looking at leveraging various technologies, including blockchain, for the same.
The linkage to Aadhaar will require an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the government will reportedly be taking it to the cabinet for approval soon.
The same was conveyed by legislative affairs secretary G Narayan Raju and additional secretary Rita Vashishth to chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and the two election commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sunil Chandra, according to media reports.
In August 2019, the election commission had proposed the amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to empower it to seek Aadhaar numbers of part of the electoral rolls and those applying for the same.
The decision to link Aadhaar numbers with voter ID was taken in 2015. The reason behind the proposal was to check multiple entries in the election rolls. The linkage was also expected to fool-proofing the process of any errors.
Under the project, called National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP), EC had linked the Aadhaar number of nearly 38 Cr voters. However, concerns related to data privacy was raised and thus the project was put on hold. The Supreme Court had said that clearing of law is required to collect Aadhaar numbers.
“The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purposes as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of a criminal investigation,” the court had said.
Indian currently has more than 75 Cr voters and the EC expects to provide remote voting right to migrant voters through the amendment. Additionally, EC had reiterated often that certain services such as internet voting in the future will be available to those who have linked Aadhaar with their Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC).
The Aadhaar project was launched in 2009 and recently it was announced that the 12-digit unique identity number has been assigned to 125 Cr Indians to date.
The unique identification authority said that the milestone comes along with the rapidly increasing use of Aadhaar as the primary identity document by the Aadhaar holders.