A common electoral roll to identity voters for Lok Sabha, assembly and local body polls would reduce the cost and effort involved in the process of preparing separate lists, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said in the Rajya Sabha. While several states use the electoral roll prepared by the Election Commission to hold Lok Sabha and assembly polls, some states use their own lists for local body elections.
The EC is mandated to hold President, Vice President, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and assembly elections. State Election Commissions, which are entirely different bodies, hold local body and panchayat polls. "The common electoral roll would reduce the cost and effort involved in the process of preparing separate electoral rolls," Rijiju said in a written reply.
He said that a meeting was chaired by the cabinet secretary with the chief secretaries of various states on September 3, 2020 related to the use of common electoral rolls in elections to local bodies. Certain concerns were raised in the meeting and a consensus was made to address the same by amending the Representation of the People Act, 1950 to provide for four qualifying dates for registration of new voters.
"Accordingly, the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 has been enacted by Parliament which inter alia ensures the four qualifying dates for the registration of new voters," he said. State governments are required to make changes in their legislations to adopt the electoral rolls for parliamentary and assembly elections for use in local body elections.
Election Commission of India would provide requisite additional fields in the existing electoral rolls to enable ward-wise segregation of voters. "Further, ECI would be required to provide adequate number of electronic voting machines to states for local body elections to resolve issues related to large number of polling stations," he said.
With PTI Inputs