Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Government seeks voter knowledge for vaccine drive, EC agrees

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THE ELECTION Commission (EC) has agreed to a request from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to share electoral roll knowledge for figuring out the age group focused for the primary part of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, sources informed The Indian Express.
The Commission, sources stated, is now ready for a response on the precise knowledge required by the Ministry.
According to the Government’s blueprint, the vaccine will probably be supplied first to healthcare employees, frontline employees and people above 50 years of age, adopted by these under 50 with related comorbidities. The precedence group of above 50 could also be additional divided into these above 60 and people between 50 and 60 for a phased rollout.
According to sources, the EC’s electoral roll knowledge has been sought to determine individuals above the age of 50 in every polling station. The EC is now engaged on a format of sharing to guard elector privateness, they stated.
“One option being considered is that we provide booth-wise information of voters above the age of 50 to the respective states, as opposed to handing over information of all states to one agency,” stated an official, who spoke on the situation of anonymity.
Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla’s request to the Commission got here after a gathering between representatives of the Health Ministry and the EC final month.
According to sources, the Health Ministry wished to grasp the construction of the election equipment and the way polls are performed on the grassroots stage. This was finished because the vaccination drive will probably be just like the election course of given the similarities within the scale of the 2 operations.
But beneath the National Disaster Management Act, the MHA is the nodal central company coordinating with all state governments to comprise the pandemic and guarantee a uniform approach.

Last month, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had informed The Indian Express that the EC is open to providing help, if sought by the system, in administering the vaccine.
Speaking on the Idea Exchange programme, Arora had stated the continued pandemic is an unprecedented nationwide disaster that requires “exceptional and extraordinary” response.
“Currently, we do not have any legal authority (to assist in the administration of the vaccine). To conduct elections, we are empowered under Article 324. But having said that, given the experience and expertise we have, if someone reaches out to us for a national cause, we will take a call,” he had stated.

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