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    Senior citizens laud EC rule on postal ballot

    Synopsis

    IFHD is learnt to have written to the ECI expressing its appreciation on behalf of many senior citizens’ federations, ahead of the Bihar elections. It has suggested that the postal ballot for senior citizens should be extended beyond the Bihar elections as about 10% of the Indian population comprises senior citizens, a number that is increasing yearly.

    NEW DELHI: At a time when the Election Commission is facing criticism from opposition parties over its recent decision to extend postal ballots to those above 65 years, several senior citizens’ federations are supporting this move.

    The International Foundation for Human Development (IFHD) is learnt to have written to the ECI expressing its appreciation on behalf of many senior citizens’ federations, ahead of the Bihar elections. It has suggested that the postal ballot for senior citizens should be extended beyond the Bihar elections as about 10% of the Indian population comprises senior citizens, a number that is increasing yearly.

    This move will help India move towards the digital voting mode and include more senior citizens in the voting process, president of the IFHD, Dr Rao VBJ Chelikani, is learnt to have stated in a written communication to the poll panel.

    While several political parties have expressed reservations over the move saying they should have been consulted, and that it could compromise the secrecy of the ballot, the ECI defended the decision citing the unprecedented scenario and the need to ensure that the most vulnerable sections are able to cast their vote.

    It also took cognizance of the May 17 guidelines of the National Executive Committee operating under the Disaster Management Act.

    The guidelines made specific mention of the need for ‘protection of vulnerable persons’ defining them as those above 65 years of age and children below 10 years of age.

    So while in a decision notified on 22.10.2019, the ECI had extended postal ballot facility to those above 80 years of age, Persons with disabilities and voters engaged in essential services; ahead of the upcoming Bihar assembly elections, on 1.06.2020, the poll panel decided to extend the facility to those above 65 years of age keeping in mind the ‘vulnerable sections’’ identified by the National Executive Committee.

    In view of the ‘extraordinary situation’, it also extended the facility to COVID 19 affected persons in quarantine.

    The idea was to ensure crowding at polling station is reduced in view of the challenge of conducting polls amid the pandemic and also to make sure that no voter loses out on casting his ballot due to the constraints imposed by COVID 19, sources said.

    The poll panel is also learnt to have assessed the rule book prior to taking the decision and it is found well within its remit in doing so.

    Section 60(c) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 allows the EC to extend postal ballot facility to a segment of voters ,saying that “any person belonging to a class of persons notified by the Election Commission in consultation with the government to give his postal ballot and not in any other manner, at an election in a constituency where a poll is taken subject to the fulfillment of such requirements as may be specified in those rules”.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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    4 Comments on this Story

    Vedantham Sheshashar33 days ago
    India being largest democracy in the world, voters list is never uptodate and with the kind of government officials we have in our country, implementation of postal ballot will be difficult. So many ghosts will vote.
    D P33 days ago
    why not Aadhaar enabled digitally signed electronic voting?
    May 33 days ago
    Seniors are made run office to office for their public works while for election they will get to vote by post, now marathon plus mass post ballot vote capturing.
    The Economic Times