As in all elections in the past, the last general elections, too, saw allegations of voter fraud as well as instances of the Election Commission (EC) bungling. So, just before the elections, the YSR Congress Party alleged that there were 59 lakh fake entries in the voter rolls for Andhra Pradesh; that’s a massive 16% of the electorate. In the case of Telangana, it was the EC that felt the rolls were fake and struck off 27 lakh names. In other cases, such as in the case of former CII President Shobhana Kamineni, bona fide residents found their names struck off the voters’ list. The EC has, in this context, done well to ask for amendments in the Representation of People Act to allow linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs. According to a report in The Indian Express, EC has written to the law secretary asking for making Aadhaar linking legal, while also accommodating those who cannot furnish Aadhaar cards or do not have an Aadhaar number. Although the EC had started Aadhaar-seeding of voter IDs to eliminate fake cards way back in 2015, and had linked 38 crores voter IDs before the Supreme Court ruled against the linking. Aadhaar-linking, should this happen, will, in the words of the EC, “pave the way for exploring the use of technology for voting and verification of voter identity in the future”.
Besides, rooting out fake voter IDs, Aadhaar can find further uses to curb voter fraud. If Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be linked to the Aadhaar database, and a feedback loop is designed in such a way, it could be possible to ensure that there is no duplicate voting; an Aadhaar verification, as is done for drawing rations, could ensure that there is no fake voting. Besides, it also opens up the possibility of making voting truly portable, where a migrant worker from Bihar can cast his vote—for his MLA or MP in Bihar—at any election centre while working in Delhi; once Aadhaar is used to ensure that all voter IDs are genuine, with appropriate checks, there is no reason why e-voting can’t be made possible. With many companies having adopted this, via use of blockchain, even countries can do the same. For a country where losing political parties never tire of making the same allegations of EVM fraud from time to time, though, even talking of this could be premature.