The administration of the Union and State election procedures in India is the function of the Election Commission of India(ECI), an independent constitutional authority. The body conducts the elections for India’s President and Vice President as well as the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha legislatures.
Prior to January 1, everybody who turned 18 on or before that day was eligible to register as a voter. However, ECI recently announced on July 28, 2022, that 17-year-olds can now register in advance for voters’ lists. The initiative is introduced in an effort to increase youth voter registration opportunities and support a strong electoral roll. Any individual of 17 years of age who wishes to be added to the voter list may now do so without having to wait until they turn 18. After registering, voters will obtain an EPIC, or electoral photo identity card.
Since the electoral roll was earlier updated on January 1, many young people who turned 18 after January 1 had to wait until the Special Summary Revision of the following year for enrolling and were thus unable to vote in elections that were held during that time. Any citizen who turns 18 by April 1, July 1, or October 1, 2023, may also file an advance application for voter registration beginning on the day the electoral roll draught for the current round of yearly revision is published, which is 2023.
Further, Rajiv Kumar, the chief election commissioner (CEC), and Anup Chandra Pandey, the election commissioner, have instructed all state chief electoral officers and electoral registration officers to devise technologically advanced solutions that would enable young people to submit their advanced applications with reference to three additional qualifying dates, namely April 1, July 1, and October 1 in addition to January 1. The Representation of the People(RP) Act was also amended by the law ministry earlier this year, adding four more qualifying days in addition to the existing: January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. It was done in accordance with ECI’s recommendations. The Election Commission of India has started the process of bringing about the necessary changes for preparation/revision of electoral rolls of Assembly/Parliamentary Constituency,” according to the legal amendments to Section 14(b) of the RP Act 1950 and the subsequent modifications to the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
Also, the registration forms are designed to be easier to use and more streamlined. On August 1, 2022, the newly updated forms will become effective. A one-month time is provided to submit claims and objections in the drafted electoral roll in accordance with ECI standards for the special summary revision. The revision processes, which include handling claims and objections received after the publishing of the integrated draught electoral roll, will start in November. All applications submitted in previous forms and received before the specified deadline will be processed and disposed of and there will be no need to submit an application in a new form in these circumstances. The Commission also mandated the rewriting of the annual summary with reference to January 1, 2023, as the qualifying date in all States except those that are bound by elections. The draft electoral roll will be released on November 9, 2022, or later on when advance applications may be made.
The Commission’s current directives and guidelines are followed for all pre-revision processes. The revision and pre-revision operations are carried out in a way that the electoral rolls are eventually published well before National Voters’ Day (January 25 of every year), allowing for the ceremonial distribution of EPICs to new electors, particularly young voters (18-19 years), on the day of NVD. The commission has already started the process of integrating data from the Electoral Roll with Aadhaar IDs. The updated registration forms now include a request for voters’ Aadhaar information. For the purpose of collecting the Aadhaar number of current voters, a new Form-6B has also been established. However, because providing an Aadhaar number is totally voluntary, no application to have a name added to the electoral roll would be turned down, and no entries will be removed.
It has been observed in other countries such as the US that when younger people are encouraged to vote, they feel important and hence, show better results. As developing people, they are more eager to participate, and giving them this chance is an opportunity in their eyes. The aim of this initiative is to encourage and promote voting and I believe if there is enough awareness among people and the implementation is done accordingly then I believe it can really make a change in our country.
Research Intern at CPRG