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Government considers single list of voters for the polls at all levels | India News

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NEW DELHI: Moving towards the adoption of a single electoral roll for elections at all levels (parliamentary, assembly, and local), the government has initiated discussions on enabling any legal changes that may be necessary to achieve this synergy. Sources told TOI that at a recent meeting attended by senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Election Commission of India (ECI) they decided that the cabinet secretary would hold talks with the chief secretaries of state and I would persuade them to make the necessary amendments to their own laws governing local body elections, to allow the adoption of ECI lists for panchayat and municipal elections.
Although ECI is empowered by Article 324 of the Constitution to vote in Lok Sabha and state assemblies, for which a common list of voters is used, the state election commissions (SEC) derive their powers from Article 243K and 243ZA to prepare lists for the votes of local bodies . However, 22-state SECs are known to rely on ECI lists to conduct three-level surveys, thanks to an enabling provision in their relevant state laws.
An Election Commission official said the suggestion for the single voter list dates from 1999 and is not linked to another pending government proposal for simultaneous elections. “With regard to simultaneous voting, all the bodies – the law commission, the permanent parliamentary commission and NITI Aayog – that have studied and made recommendations on the subject, have limited themselves to examining the simultaneous votes to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies, “said the officer.
At the meeting that included the cabinet secretary and representatives of the PMO, the Ministry of Law, Panchayati Raj and ECI, held a few days ago, two options: first, a constitutional amendment to article 243K and article 243ZA to make it mandatory that the SEC adopt the ECI lists and Second, the possibility was discussed of getting states where the ECI voter list is not currently in use to allow it by reviewing their own relevant laws. The consensus favored the latter.
While the BJP manifesto for the 2019 LS polls had promised simultaneous polls at all three levels of government, the inclusion of the third tier in the scope of the simultaneous polls has yet to be discussed.

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