No Postal Ballot for Persons above 65 years of Age in Bihar Assembly Elections: ECI

Published: July 16, 2020

The Election Commission of India has issued guidelines that electors above the age of 65 years will not be extended the postal ballot facility in the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar and also the by-elections. The decision has been taken due to the problems arising out of logistics, manpower and safety protocols during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Background

It was earlier recommended by the Election Commission of India to extend postal ballot facility to the persons above 65 years of age so that they are not exposed to any kind of health issues amidst the deadly COVID 19 pandemic in the country. Also, the facility was recommended for the COVID positive voters and the voters who will be under quarantine facility during the time of election so that they are not deprived of their right to vote. However, while assessing the situation in the country with respect to field situations and logistics of operationalization, the ECI has now decided to do away with this recommendation for the persons above 65 years of age.

The ECI has also taken the call that the optional postal ballot facility will be provided to voters who are above 80 years of age, PwD voters and the electors who are engaged in the essential services. The COVID 19 positive and quarantined voters will also be provided with the postal ballot facility.

What is Postal Ballot Voting?

It is defined as the facility through which a voter can exercise his/her voting option remotely by recording the preference in the ballot paper and send it back to the election officer before the final counting day. As of now, members of the Armed Forces, government employees posted outside India and their spouses and the members of the armed police force of a state are only allowed to exercise postal ballot voting rights. Voters under preventive detention can also vote through postal ballots. The President of India, Vice President, Governors, Union Cabinet Ministers, Speaker of the House and the government officers on poll duty can also exercise this facility but they will have to apply to the ECI for availing this facility in advance.

Election Commission of India

Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority tasked with administering Union and state election processes in India. It administers the elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies and the Offices of the President and the Vice President in the country. ECI derives its authority from Article 324 of the Indian Constitution and it was established in 1950. At present, ECI consists of One Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. There are Chief Electoral Officers in every state to assist the ECI in conducting the state-level elections.

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