Assembly Election 2021: ETPBS to allow for transmission of postal ballots to service voters; an overview
The Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System enables entitled service voters to cast their vote from their preferred location, which is outside their originally-assigned voting constituency.
The Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) allows one-way electronic transmission of postal ballots to service voters (voters having a service qualification).
It enables entitled service voters to cast their vote from their preferred location, which is outside their originally-assigned voting constituency
Who can vote through ETPBS?
Persons working in Central forces under Arms Act and government officials deployed in embassies outside the country are classified as service voters.
A person having service qualification can get enrolled as a ‘service voter’ at his native place even when they actually reside at a different place (of posting). They, however, have an option to get themselves enrolled as a general elector at the place of their posting where they factually, at the point of time, are residing ordinarily with their family for a sufficient span of time, the EC website states.
The wife of a male service voter who ordinarily resides with him is also allowed to vote through ETPBS.
There are three application forms that different categories of service voters should first submit to enroll themselves as a service voter: Form 2 (for members of armed forces), Form 2A (for members of armed police force of a state, serving outside that state), and Form 3 (for persons employed under Government of India on a post outside India).
How ETPBS works
The ETPBS electronically transmits postal ballots from a returning officer to service voters by a series of security protocols.
First, a returning officer generates one ballot paper for each service voter on a specific desktop application. The list of the candidates is then punched along with their party names. The ballots then gets encrypted in the system and are ready to be sent.
Through the ETPBS system, these blank ballots are automatically assigned to service voters based on their constituency and then get transmitted. The unit officer downloads the password-protected postal ballots on behalf of the service voter. The downloaded postal ballot can now be e-transmitted or hand-delivered to individual service voters through a secured network/infrastructure. A PIN will be transmitted/dispatched to individual service voters by a record officer to ensure that the downloaded postal ballot is opened by the concerned service voter only.
Upon receipt of the postal ballot at the counting centres, the returning officer validates the receipt by a series of QR codes with that of the transmitted system.
The ETPBS app prioritises the speedy and effective actions by authorities and promises users status reports within 100 minutes.Steps to vote as a service voter
A person voting under ETPBS should follow these steps:
- Download and print the following: postal ballot paper, Form 13-A (declaration by elector), Form 13-B-Cover A (for inner envelope), Form 13-C-Cover B (for outer envelope), Form 13-D (instructions for the guidance of the elector).
- Obtain one small and one big envelope.
- Cut and paste “Form 13-B-Cover A” label on the small envelope.
- Cut and paste “Form 13-C-Cover B” label on the big envelope.
- Mark your vote on the e-postal ballot paper.
- Fold and insert the e-Postal Ballot Paper inside the small envelope and seal it.
- Fill and sign Form 13A.
- Put the sealed small envelope and Form 13A in the big envelope and seal it.
- Dispatch or send by post.
Service voters in upcoming polls
The Assembly elections for four states and one Union Territory viz. Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry will be held from 27 March to 29 April. The counting of votes will be held on 2 May.
As per an Election Commission release dated 26 February 2021, Assam has 62,134 service voters, while Tamil Nadu has 72,853 service voters and West Bengal has 1,12,642 service voters. There are 56,759 service voters in Kerala, and only 303 of them in Puducherry.
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