Assembly Election 2021: Postal ballots and the ‘absentee voters’ who can avail it; all you need to know
Through the postal ballot facility, an ‘absentee voter’ can remotely cast their vote by putting their preference on a ballot paper and sending it to the election officer before the counting is held.
The voting for the Assemblies in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, West Bengal and Puducherry is set to be held in eight phases from 27 March to 29 April. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has made the postal ballot facility available to senior citizens above the age of 80 years, electors marked as ‘Person with Disabilities’ (PwD), those in essential services, and COVID-19 positive patients/suspects.
What are postal ballots?
Through the postal ballot facility, an ‘absentee voter’ (currently includes categories of senior citizens above 80 years of age, PwDs, COVID-19 suspect/affected persons and those employed in essential services) can remotely cast their vote by putting their preference on a ballot paper and sending it to the election officer before the counting is held.
This is an optional facility and does not involve any postal department mailing. Traditionally, the postal ballot facility could only be availed by service workers, special voters, voters on election duty, and those in preventative detention under the law.
Availing the facility
As per the initiative, voters who are eligible to opt for postal ballot and wish to go for the facility will have to apply for it within five days of the election notification of the election in their Assembly constituencies.
Booth-level officers (BLO) will provide all eligible electors with an application form in which they will be asked to choose whether they want the postal ballot option or will visit their polling station to vote.
If the elector has opted for postal ballot, a polling team of two polling officials, one videographer and a security personnel will visit the elector’s residence along with a voting compartment and get the elector to vote on a postal ballot paper while maintaining complete secrecy of vote.
The concerned candidates will be provided a list of these electors in advance, the schedule of voting and the polling team’s route chart so that they can send their representatives to witness the voting process.
PwD and voters above the age of 80 were given the absentee voter status for the first time in the country in 2019 in seven Assembly constituencies of Jharkhand. In the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, the postal ballot option was extended to the present categories of absentee voters and was used by more than 52,000 such electors, as per Election Commission.
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