Covid-19 patients, Elderly Can Vote in Elections Via Postal Ballot

The Ministry of Law and Justice on Thursday issued a notification for the Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules 2020 for extending the postal ballot facility for voters above the age of 65 years as well as Covid-19 patients under home or institutional quarantine.

The notification was issued ahead of the Bihar assembly polls which is scheduled to take place somewhere between October and November. West Bengal’s assembly elections are also due to be held in early 2021

Elderly people over the age of 65 are vulnerable to the infection, along with pregnant women and those suffering from chronic health parameters like diabetes, hypertension and renal ailments. The Union health ministry has been continuously discouraging vulnerable people from venturing out when the country is recording a surge in coronavirus infections. 

The postal ballot facility had so far been reserved only for people over the age of 80 and those voters involved in essential services who are not posted in their home state.

Here’s all you need to know about the change in voting rules:

* In the new notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice, people over the age of 65 years will now be able to vote by postal ballot in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

* This facility will also be extended to people infected with coronavirus or those who are suspected of having caught the infection and are in institutional quarantine. Those people who have mild symptoms and are not in any medical facility, but in home quarantine can also vote through postal ballot.

* The notification was issued ahead of the Bihar assembly polls which is scheduled to take place somewhere between October and November. West Bengal’s assembly elections are also due to be held in early 2021.

* According to the law ministry notification, the Centre after consulting the Election Commission of India (ECI) framed new rules to further amend the Conduction of Election Rules, 1961.

* The notification said that in the rule 27A, clause (aa) of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, after the words “or persons with disability” occurring at the end, the words, “or the Covid-19 suspect or affected persons” shall be inserted.

* In clause (e), for the figures and word “80 years”, the figures and word “65 years” shall be substituted.

* In an attempt to ensure that social distancing norms are followed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has decided that Bihar will have more polling stations to avoid crowding. 

* Auxiliary polling stations will be set up in the same building or premises of the original polling station to spread out voters for the upcoming Bihar assembly elections. If the auxiliary polling stations cannot be set up in the same building or premises, it would be set up at a nearby place.

* After the outbreak of the coronavirus in India, Bihar will be the first state to have assembly polls. The state has nearly 7.20 crore voters and the term of the 243-member assembly ends on November 29 this year. The new assembly has to be formed before November 29.

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20 Oct 2020, 11:19 AM (GMT)

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