Govt asks EC about enrolling voters soon after they turn 18

Govt asks EC about enrolling voters soon after they turn 18

New Delhi: In what may be good news for youths waiting to register themselves as voters, the Centre has asked the Election Commission whether it was feasible to allow the citizens enrol themselves as voters as soon as they turn 18 years of age.
As of now, a person who is 18 on January 1 is eligible to be on the voters’ list. People born thereafter can register as voters only the next year. In other words, a person turning 18 after January 1, 2018, cannot vote if an election takes place that year.
Since the mid-seventies, the poll panel had been insisting that there should be “multiple” cut off dates for those turning 18 to get registered as voters.
While the EC proposed January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 as four cut-off dates, the law ministry had in 2016 said two cut off dates of January 1 and July 1 would be fine.
A Bill was also prepared to amend the electoral law.
However, the Centre has now decided to examine whether people turning 18 can be “automatically” registered as voters throughout the year, senior government and EC functionaries said.
The poll watchdog has been asked to reconfigure the software and flag the practical difficulties the move could throw up.
“EC has experts. Moreover, they register the voters. So they are the people to examine whether the proposal is feasible,” a senior government functionary said.
The EC’s proposal had earlier run into legal hurdles as the government was of the view that that it would need a constitutional amendment. But now, the EC and the law ministry have agreed that the Representation of the People Act would have to be amended by a simple bill.
A proposal made in the early 1970s had suggested multiple cut-off dates of January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 for those attaining the required age to register as voters. But the proposal could not take off.
Interestingly, when the EC had earlier mooted the idea, it had sent a copy of the same to the Jammu and Kashmir government. The state government had in fact implemented the idea that day. Therefore, the state has multiple cut-off dates for people to register as voters.
On an average, over one crore new voters in the age group of 18-19 years get registered annually in the country.