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Aadhaar and Elections: Telangana Chief Electoral Officer says checking names voter responsibility

Rajat Kumar, the Chief Electoral officer (CEO) of Telangana said that the deletion and inclusion of voter names from state electoral lists were made as part of voter enrolments when a revision of the electoral rolls was undertaken, reports the Business Standard.

Kumar’s statement comes months after him conceding that 8% or 22 lakhs of the 2.8 crore voter names were deleted from the electoral roll. In September, he accepted that names were also deleted from the voter rolls in 2015 when the verification process was Aadhaar-based. This verification was stopped after the Supreme Court limited the use of Aadhaar and made it voluntary. At that time, Kumar mulled the possibility of name deletion due to a new software.

However, owing to this deletion, several people, including badminton player Jwala Gutta could not vote in the Telangana assembly elections on 7 December.

The BS report adds that following the outrage over this deletion, the Chief Electoral Officer of Telangana, said –

  • On November 19, Election Commission of India, added around 26 lakh voters to the draft roll published on September 10.
  • Voters could have checked their names in the rolls through the website
  • They could have also done the same through “Check Your Vote” campaign carries out from October 26 to November 5
  • The responsibility of checking names and enrolment lies with the voter

Aadhaar and voter ID linkage

In response to an RTI filed by MediaNama, the ECI said that it has “no information in any physical form” about the number of Aadhaar cards linked to the Voter Id. It also said that “no Voter Ids were deleted due to non-linking of Aadhaar.” However, in March this year, OP Rawat, the Chief Election Commissioner had said that 32 crore Aadhaar numbers had been linked to voter IDs, another 54.5 crore would be linked after a nod from the Supreme Court.

ECI’s push for linking Aadhaar and the voter ID

In August last year, the ECI petitioned for the linkage of voter IDs and Aadhaar in the Supreme Court.

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  • In August, 7 National and 34 State political parties urged the ECI to link Voter IDs with the Aadhaar card to weed out duplicate voter names.
  • In October, the Madras High Court issued notice in a petition appealing the linkage of Aadhaar with Voter ID. The Election Commission has informed the court that it supports the petition and linkage.

The ECI had launched the National Electoral Roll Purification & Authentication Programme (NERPAP) across all the states and union territories with the major objective of linking of Aadhaar with the Electoral Roll database in March 2015. However, the commission suspended all activities related to collection/feeding/seeding of Aadhaar number after an interim order in August 2015 prevented it from doing so.

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