New Delhi : In a bid to ensure that young citizens are registered as voters as soon as they turn 18, the Election Commission has asked the government to do away with the January 1 as deadline for the purpose as it deprives several youths from participating in the electoral exercise. According to the Election Commissions guidelines on enrolment of voters, 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 is eligible to be enrolled in the voters’ list.
“As a result, 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. In case elections are taking place subsequently, they will have to wait for a longer period,” Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters here. He said the EC thought that it must enable young people to register as voters the day they turn 18. “Therefore, the Commission has recommended to the Law Ministry to amend the rules. We are pursuing the matter,” he said. The Law Ministry is the administrative ministry for EC. DG, Election Commission Akshay Raut said the cut off date can be done away with by amending the related rules and there was no need to amend the Representation of the People Act.
Former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said it was a welcome step as it would help increase the registration of new voters. 1.27 crore new voters of the age group of 18-19 years have been registered recently.
Zaidi said, surveys have shown gender gap, urban apathy and youth disconnect as the three major reasons for low voter turnout and poor registration.
As elections are held every five years, efforts are on make it a “pleasant exercise”, he added.