Poll panel asks govt to ease age norm to attract young voters

In a bid to attract young voters to participate in the electoral process, the Election Commission has asked the Centre to amend laws to confer on youth voting rights immediately after turning 18 years.

Under Section 14 (b) of Representative of the People Act, 1950, only those who attain the age of 18 years on or before January 1, the cutoff date from which electoral rolls are revised, are eligible to be enrolled as voters.

As the first day of January of every year is the relevant date for determining the qualifying age of 18 years, if a person attains the age of 18 years after that particular date, he has to wait till the next year to enrol himself in the voters list. He/she is ineligible to vote in any poll that year in spite of attaining the age of majority.

The Election Commission had written to the Ministry of Law to amend the RP Act to ensure that all those who attain the age of 18 years, even after the January 1 cutoff date, should be eligible to enrol themselves as voters.

“This move will help young voters, particularly first-timers, to participate in the  electoral process,” a senior officer of the Election Commission told Deccan Herald.
According to 2011 census, 2,79,49,127 people—1,50,15,960 boys and 1,29,33,167 girls—will attain the age of 18 and become eligible to vote in the next election.

However, if the cutoff norm is applied, many of them may not be eligible to exercise their right and will have to wait till they qualify, said the official. 

According to the recently released electoral rolls, only 3.6 lakh among those enrolled to vote in the assembly elections are aged 18 or 19 against the 6.4 lakh youth in the 16-17 age group recorded by the 2011 census.

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