COVID-19 patients, people above 65 years, can vote using postal ballot

COVID-19 patients, people above 65 years, can vote using postal ballot

Written By: / Friday, 03 July 2020 18:19

By IT Correspondent
New Delhi, July 3:

Ahead of the assembly election in Bihar, which is expected to be held in October-November, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday said coronavirus patients and those above 65 years of age will be allowed to vote using postal ballot. 
With activities coming to a juddering halt, due to pandemic, the decision to allow those over  65 years and those infected with coronavirus or suspected of having contracted the infection  to vote by postal ballot has been taken after the government amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. Those who have mild symptoms and are not in any medical facility, but in home quarantine can also vote through postal ballot. Earlier, casting votes through postal ballots was available only to armed forces and officials assigned poll duties 
The people over the age of 65 are vulnerable to the virus, along with pregnant women and those suffering from chronic health conditions including diabetes, hypertension and kidney ailments. Medical experts and the government have been continuously discouraging such people from venturing out. 
“Notification for Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules 2020 - for extending Postal Ballot facility for voters above the age of 65 yrs & Covid+ve under home/institutional quarantined, has been issued” ECI spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan said. 
In February, Delhi became the first state to experiment with postal ballots, extending the facilities to those with severe disabilities or above the age of 80 years. The elections to fill 19 vacancies in the Rajya Sabha in nine states scheduled to held in March, were deferred after the outbreak of the pandemic and were held in June. Besides arrangements were made to allow members who were unwell to vote, through postal ballot. 
“At present Bihar has 72,723 polling stations (PS) with nearly 7.18 crore voters. The ECI has directed the chief electoral officer, Bihar, to do a detailed exercise of logistics to ensure that a limit of 1,000 voters per polling station is kept and auxiliary PS are created wherever required. About 34,000 such auxiliary PS in the same building of an existing polling station or in its vicinity would be required to ensure social distancing, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said. 
ECI  will make  use of digital and media platforms, including bulk SMS, social media, TV  advertising, FM and community radio, NVSP (National Voter Service Portal) and the voter helpline app. Similarly the voters’ guide will be updated to incorporate the COVID-19  imperatives ” Arora said. 
The other measures to ensure the safe election include maintaining social distancing, sanitisation and masks/gloves, training, capacity-building of electoral machinery, and sensitisation of all officials on election duty. ECI has already established mechanisms to monitor digital environment for elections. Hence, with proper monitoring mechanism and shift of campaign to the online mode would not affect the implementation of Model Code of Conduct ”, Arora added.

About the Author

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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