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Governance

Postal Ballot Cover Extension

  • 06 Sep 2019
  • 3 min read

The Election Commission Of India has asked the Union Law Ministry to expand the ambit of postal ballots.

  • The move seeks to extend the postal ballot cover to voters on duty which includes voters in the aviation sector, the shipping sector, trains, fire services, medical services, traffic, long-distance road transport corporation buses, the aged, the physically challenged, and the journalists covering elections.
  • This will require an amendment to the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 (RP Act), and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • This act provides for the actual conduct of elections in India. It deals with the following matters :
    • Details like Qualification and Disqualification of members of both the Houses of Parliament and the State Legislatures,
    • Administrative machinery for conducting elections,
    • Registration of Political parties,
    • Conduct of Elections,
    • Election Disputes,
    • Corrupt practices & Electoral offences, &
    • By-elections.

Postal Ballots System

  • Ballot papers are distributed electronically to electors and are returned to the election officers via post.
  • Currently, only the following voters are allowed to cast their votes through postal ballot:
    • Service voters (armed forces, the armed police force of a state and government servants posted abroad),
    • Voters on election duty, and
    • Voters under preventive detention.
  • The exception to the above-mentioned category of voters is provided under Section 60 of the RP Act, 1951.

Way Forward

  • The recent approval by the government to allow registered NRI voters to appoint proxies so as to cast a vote on their behalf is a welcome step.
  • In order to ensure that the process of issuing of postal ballot happens in a controlled environment, the Election Commission has intended to provide the facility in specific centres on specific days, duly supervised by elections officials.
    • This will help to eliminate the chances of undue influence and interference in the casting of the vote through postal ballot.
  • In the case of the aged and physically-challenged voters, the postal ballot papers can be delivered to them at home and collected back then and there, in a controlled, safe and secure environment.
  • In a true democracy, it is necessary to explore all avenues that can enable the exercise of the franchise to all eligible voters.

Source: IE

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