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POSTAL BALLOTS: EXPLAINED

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Election Commission has announced that it will allow those above the age of 65 as well as those under home or institutional quarantine to vote using postal ballots during the Bihar elections.

What is Postal Voting?

Postal Voting is a facility for a set of voters, through which a voter can cast the vote remotely by recording the preference on the ballot paper and sending it back to the election officer before counting.

Who can avail this facility?

  1. Members of the armed forces like the Army, Navy and Air Force,
  2. Members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state),
  3. Government employees posted outside India and their spouses
  4. Voters under preventive detention

are entitled to vote only by post.

  • Special voters such as the President of India, Vice President, Governors, Union Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the House and government officers on poll duty have the option to vote by post
  • The Law Ministry, at the Election Commission’s behest, introduced a new category of ‘absentee voters’, who can now also opt for postal voting.

How are votes recorded by post?

  • The Returning Officer is supposed to print ballot papers within 24 hours of the last date of nomination withdrawal and dispatch them within a day.
    After receiving it, the voter can mark his/her preference with a tick mark or cross mark against the candidate’s name, and fill up a duly attested declaration to the effect that they have marked the ballot paper.
  • The ballot paper and the declaration are then placed in a sealed cover and sent back to the Returning Officer before the time fixed for the commencement of counting of votes.

Arguments pointing at flaws of Postal Voting

  • Allowing those aged 65 and above to vote by postal ballot violates secrecy in voting as a large segment of the population is uneducated and they might seek assistance from others at numerous stages, ending up disclosing their preferred candidate.
  • Postal voting also exposes the aged to different forms of influence in unfair manner.

Click Here to read more about the Election Commission of India

-Source: Indian Express

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