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Voter-Aadhaar unification: Value-added convenience to voting

  It’s definitely a historic step taken by the Indian Government to connect the Voter and Aadhaar cards, the two major IDs. The unification will be a milestone for the Indian citizen registration system. At the same time, it potentially may result in a common national ID, similar to the social security number in the US.The Election Laws (Amendment Bill), 2021 was passed recently in the Rajya Sabha supported by the Lok Sabha. Presented by Indian Law minister, Kiren Rijiju, the bill aims to link the electoral roll data with the Aadhaar cards. Aadhaar is a biometric id issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India or UIDAI for the uninitiated. The Indian government is pushing the bill to eliminate fake voters in the largest democracy in the world. It will also help to find out the authenticity of citizenship where migrating aliens is a major headache for the administrations. In India, there are several reported instances of fake vote casting, or even people coming to vote with Voter ID cards of the deceased. A grainy photo on the ID card is not enough to find out the authenticity of the voter, which is misused by these miscreants. When the Aadhaar linking is done, a two-step authentication will help curb the problem. Verifying the biometric parameters will ensure that no imposter have the right to franchise. It will result in a corruption-free election across the country. There are other optimistic aspects of the bill as well. The Indian citizen who migrate to other states of the country, will not lose the chance to vote, just because they are in another part of the country. With biometric linking, they can prove their citizenship and identity, help vote at the place of residency. According to the bill, the electoral officers may need the Aadhaar numbers from the people who are already on the electoral roll. However, providing the Aadhaar information to be included in the electoral roll is voluntary. The Indian Border States have been suffering from illegal migration for more than half a century. The external inbound population has been living here for years, with fake IDs. This move will help weed out the encroachment, relieving pressure on the national resources. Despite various positive impacts, there are potential downsides of the merger which cannot be ignored. Any possible practical linking should be done only after these are taken care of, else the fallout can be quite dangerous. Time and again, it is proved that the Aadhaar data is not unreachable. When it is linked with a major ID card like the electoral roll, a manifold increase in data security is warranted. Else, it may result in identity theft, which the innocent will suffer.The fallible fingerprint readers, error in reading due to blurred prints, faulty internet connectivity should not stop a true Indian citizen from casting their vote. The whistle blowers are also claiming that the Aadhaar-linked data can be misused in voter profiling based on religion or selective exclusion from the benefits. The Aadhaar-voter linking move is a powerful tool. If exercised with proper caution, it can effectively cure the illegal alien problem in India, else it will end up as a borderline anti constitutional move. The world will watch closely how India goes ahead with the goal of a unified ID.



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