Facility introduced for first time for senior citizens above 80 years, PwDs and COVID patients
R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, April 3: The Election Commission of India’s decision to extend postal ballot facilities to different categories of people, including senior citizens above 80 years of age, persons with disabilities and suspected COVID patients, has received positive response and more than 74,000 persons have applied for availing the opportunity.
Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Assam, told The Assam Tribune that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has undertaken a slew of initiatives to ensure that electors who are unable to come to polling booths and absentee voters are facilitated in every possible way for wider participation in the electoral process.
This election, the ECI has for the first time introduced postal ballot facility for senior citizens (above 80 years), Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and COVID positive and suspected in quarantine (home and institutional). The traditional users of postal ballot are service voters, special voters, voters on election duty, notified voters and electors subjected to preventive detention under any law.
Altogether 3,88,963 electors are eligible for postal ballot in three additional categories and of these, 74,275 have opted for postal ballot – that is 19.10 per cent of the total eligible voters.
The ECI issued detailed guidelines for applying for postal ballot facilities and any eligible person seeking to avail the facility should apply to the Returning Officer with copies of the certificates proving his or her eligibility.
Sources said that the district election officers chalked out a detailed plan to facilitate the voters to apply for postal ballot and the booth level officers carried out house to house visits to get the application forms signed. The applications and the accompanying documents were verified by the Returning officers.
The ECI also made it clear that the details of the postal ballots would be informed to the candidates and they can depute their representatives to witness the process of collection of postal ballots if they desire. Police personnel also accompanied the poll officials when they went to collect the postal ballots and videography of the process was also carried out. PPE kits were provided to the poll officials who went to collect postal ballots from the residences of the COVID affected or suspected COVID patients, sources added.