Voter list entry: Govt frames draft bill for 2nd cut-off date

Voter list entry: Govt frames draft bill for 2nd cut-off date

 More young citizens would soon be able to enlist themselves as voters as the Law Ministry has drafted a bill to have multiple cut-off dates to ensure that people who turn 18 are able to register in the electoral rolls twice a year.

As of now, for an election to be held in a particular year, only an individual who has attained the age of 18 years as on January 1 of that year or before is eligible to be enrolled in the voters' list. Now, July 1 could be the second cut-off date.

While the Election Commission had been pushing for four cut-off dates to register as voters, the government has agreed to have two.

EC told the government that the January 1 cut-off date set for the purpose deprives several youths from participating in the electoral exercise held in a particular year.

The frequently asked question section on the website of Delhi Chief Electoral Officer explains the concept of cut-off or qualifying date.

"Which is the relevant date for determining the age qualification of 18 years? Suppose, you have completed 18 years of age today. Can you get yourself registered as voter?

"According to Section 14 (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, the qualifying date means the first day of January of the year in which the electoral roll is prepared or revised."

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had recently said that "as a result (of having one cut-off date), if a person is becoming 18 years on January 2, he cannot be registered. Therefore, a person who is turning 18 beyond January 1 will have to wait for next year to get registered."

At a meeting held last month between Zaidi had top Law Ministry officials, the government had agreed for two cut-off dates.

The Commission proposed that instead of only one qualifying date for enrollment, there should be four different dates (January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1) for enrollment so that maximum number of people can be enrolled.

The Law Ministry suggested that instead of four dates, "we may introduce two dates. Accordingly, the Commission proposed that January 1 and July 1 may be specified as qualifying dates for enrollment by amending electoral laws", EC had said in a statement after the meeting.

EC's proposal had earlier run into legal hurdles as 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 only have be amended by a simple bill.

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