Electoral Reforms In India

Election Commission of India unveils roadmap for revamp


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Need for electoral reforms

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is considering a series of new reforms proposed by working groups it set up in 2019. Some of them are:

  • New voting methods,
  • Capping the campaign expenditure of political parties,
  • Online registration of new voters at 17 years and
  • Ending social media campaigning 48 hours before polling among the recommendations

Various suggested reforms

Voters registration

  • Among the recommendations being considered is replacing all the forms for various voter services, including registration of new voter and change of address, with one single form.
  • Multiple numbers of forms create confusion and affect the efficiency in the process. It is now proposed to have a unified and simplified form for all services to voters.
  • Another recommendation was to start online registration facilities at the school or college-level for all prospective voters at 17 years of age so they can be enrolled in the electoral roll as soon as they become eligible at 18.
  • The ECI also recommended four cut-off dates in a year to enroll as a voter. Currently, January 1 is the qualifying date so those who turn 18 after that date are not eligible to vote the whole year.
  • The ECI has proposed January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 as the qualifying dates, while the Law Ministry has suggested two dates — January 1 and July 1.

Electronic voter cards

  • The ECI also proposed to give out electronic versions of the voter ID card — EPIC — for convenience of voters.
  • Though not specifying the method, one of the recommendations was to look at the “possibility and feasibility of different voting methods”.
  • The IIT-Madras was working on a prototype for an Aadhaar-linked remote voting system for the ECI.
  • The Commission has already implemented one-way online transfer of postal ballots for service and implemented the same for the whole country in 2019.
  • It has been seen that approximately 30% of electors are not able to participate in elections for various reasons.
  • Some of them, as assessed in a report on facilities of domestic migrants may poll to the category of migrants who continue to remain voters at their previous locations.

Expenditure and campaigning

  • For political parties, the recommendations included online nomination of candidates and a cap on the spending allowed by parties.
  • Currently, individual candidates are allowed a limited expenditure on campaigning.
  • Another recommendation was to impose a “silence period of 48 hours” before polling on social media and print media.
  • Campaigning on electronic media in the last 48 hours before polling is prohibited currently.

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