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One Nation One Voter ID

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

One Nation One Voter ID

Context:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made it possible for senior citizens above the age of 65 to vote by postal ballot, given that they are at greater risk from exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Now, there is an opinion that the same empowering approach be extended to another group which faces enormous difficulties in exercising its franchise: migrant workers.

Why migrant workers?

Internal migrant workers constitute about 13.9 crore as in the Economic Survey of 2017, that is nearly a third of India’s labour force.

They are often unable to exercise their voting rights. Therefore, Migrant workers become quasi-disenfranchised, forgotten voters because they cannot afford to return home on election day to choose their representatives.

  • Internal migrant workers do not enrol as voters in their place of employment since they find proof of residence hard to provide.
  • This group also does not constitute a vote bank worthy of attention.
  • Many are seasonal migrants who would rather vote in their villages if they could afford to return home.

What needs to be done now?

Ensuring that every Indian who is eligible to vote can do so must be a central mission for the ECI.

ECI has said that it is testing an Aadhaar-linked voter-ID based solution to enable electors to cast their votes digitally from anywhere in the country.

  • To facilitate voting by migrant workers, the ECI could undertake substantial outreach measures using the network of District Collectorates.
  • Migrants should be able to physically vote in their city of work based on the address on their existing voter IDs and duration of their temporary stay.

Conclusion:

A ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ is being ushered in to enable migrant workers and their family members to access Public Distribution System benefits from any fair price shop in the country.

Similarly, voting must be viewed not just as a civic duty but as a civic right. We must demonstrate the political will to usher in ‘One Nation One Voter ID,’ to ensure native ballot portability and empower the forgotten migrant voter.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Right to vote- is it a constitutional right?
  2. Voting rights during the colonial rule- brief events.
  3. What is postal ballot?
  4. ECI- composition and key functions.
  5. What is a secret ballot?
  6. What is Aadhar Number?

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of One Nation One Voter ID.

Sources: the Hindu.