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Tags Current Affairs

Common Electoral Roll

Date: 30 August 2020 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The Prime Minister’s Office held a meeting with representatives of the Election Commission and the Law Ministry to discuss the possibility of having a common electoral roll for elections to the panchayat, municipality, state assembly and the Lok Sabha.

 

Background

The common electoral roll is among the promises made by the BJP in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections last year. It ties in with the party’s commitment to hold elections simultaneously.

 

Details

  • In many states, the voters’ list for the panchayat and municipality elections is different from the one used for Parliament and Assembly elections.

  • The distinction is because the supervision and conduct of elections in our country are entrusted with two constitutional authorities, the Election Commission (EC) of India and the State Election Commissions (SECs).

  • The EC is charged with the responsibility of conducting polls to the offices of the President and Vice-President of India, and to Parliament, the state assemblies and the legislative councils.

  • The SECs, on the other hand, supervise municipal and panchayat elections. They are free to prepare their own electoral rolls for local body elections, and this exercise does not have to be coordinated with the EC.

  • Each SEC is governed by a separate state Act. Some state laws allow the SEC to borrow and use the EC’s voter’s rolls for the local body elections.

  • In others, the state commission uses the EC’s voters list as the basis for the preparation and revision of rolls for municipality and panchayat elections.

  • It is argued that the preparation of a separate voters list causes duplication of essentially the same task between two different agencies, thereby duplicating the effort and the expenditure.

 

Implementing Common Electoral Roll

  • A constitutional amendment to Articles 243K and 243ZA that give the power of superintendence, direction, and control of preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of local body elections to the SECs.

  • The amendment would make it mandatory to have a single electoral roll for all elections in the country. Second, to persuade the state governments to tweak their respective laws and adopt the Election Commission’s (EC) voters list for municipal and panchayat polls.

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