Link Aadhaar with voter IDs because Aadhaar details in the electoral rolls can be a reference for identification of voters without voter IDs – that’s what Maharastra CM Devendra Fadnavis’ letter to the Chief Election Commissioner reads, according to a Times of India report. The minister wrote that linking Aadhaar with the voter ID will bring about transparency in the election process, and help detect duplicate voters. The letter also adds that apart from the purification of electoral rolls and preventing bogus voting, this move can potentially help in shifting towards biometric authentication of voters and replace the indelible ink – leading to zero errors in identifying voters.
The demand for linking Aadhaar with voter IDs seems to cut across party and ideological lines. Fadnavis’ letter to the CEC comes just weeks after members from an opposition party in Maharastra – the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – recommended the linkage. Apart from the political route, the judicial route is also being taken to make this linkage possible. Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay petitioned in the Delhi High Court on July 15 to link Aadhaar with election identity cards.
ECI’s tryst with Aadhaar for ‘purification’ of polls
The Election Commission itself began Aadhaar and Voter ID linkage in 2015 under its National Electoral Roll Purification & Authentication Programme (NERPAP). However, the commission suspended all activities related to collection/feeding/seeding of Aadhaar number after an interim SC order in August the same year ordered it to stop doing so.
- In August 2017, the ECI petitioned for the linkage of voter IDs and Aadhaar, in the Supreme Court. In March 2018, the then Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that 32 crore Aadhaar numbers had been linked to voter IDs in just three months as part of the NERPAP exercise.
- Following that, 7 National and 34 State political parties urged the Election Commission of India to link Voter IDs with the Aadhaar card to weed out duplicate voter names. The ECI had convened an all-party meeting with the parties, in August 2018, to discuss electoral reforms ahead of assembly elections in four states.
- In October the same year, the Madras High Court issued notice in a petition appealing the linkage of Aadhaar with Voter ID which the Election Commission supported.
The linking process, if mandated, would require an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1952, which governs elections in India.