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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Era of e-postal ballots dawns, courtesy EC’s new initiative

NEW DELHI, October 25, 2016

A change in ‘The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961’ now empowers a returning officer in any constituency to send postal ballots to an eligible voter “by electronic means as specified by the Election Commission.”

The new rule was published in a central gazette notification issued on the night of October 21.

The change will go a long way in easing logistical issues involved in ensuring that the ballot paper of the constituency, where a voter is eligible to vote, is sent in time.

In the 2014 general elections, over one million voters used postal ballots. “The change will cut time in transmission of the ballot paper and help the EC overcome logistical problems”, S.K. Mendiratta, Legal Adviser to the EC told The Hindu.

Till now, postal ballots were sent through the Department of Posts.

OTP for voters

With the new rule, the returning officer can send it through a web portal with a ‘One Time Password’ to voters. The voter needs to download the ballot for voting.

However, the “process of physically returning the ballot through post remains unchanged”, another official in the EC explained.

In India, postal ballots have played a critical role in extending the electoral process to voters unable to exercise their franchise— due to either the nature of their job or geographical location of their posting. The armed forces best illustrate the point.
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