New Delhi: Keeping in mind the safety of senior citizens amid rising cases of the coronavirus, the age limit for voters to opt for the postal ballot in Lok Sabha and assembly elections has been reduced. Also Read - Soft Copies, 6 Feet Distance, Sanitisers: New Rules For Parliamentary Panel Meets
After the coronavirus outbreak in India, Bihar will be the first state to have assembly polls. And voters of Bihar will be the first to benefit from the amended rules. Also Read - Ahead of Assembly Polls, Tejashwi Yadav's 'Apology' to People of Bihar | Watch
In October 2019, the Law Ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules to allow people with disabilities and those who are 80 years of age or above to opt for the postal ballot during Lok Sabha and assembly elections. Also Read - Gujarat 'Unlock 2.0': No Gym, Cinema, Pools, Parks; Libraries Can Function at 60% Capacity
Now, on June 19, the ministry notified a fresh change in the rules, allowing those aged 65 years and above to opt for postal ballot. While amending the rules on the suggestions of the Election Commission, the ministry also allowed “COVID 19 suspect or affected persons” to use the postal ballot facility.
The age limit was reduced as “people who are 65 and above are vulnerable” to the coronavirus, explained an EC official.
The EC had approached the government to tweak the rule as pandemic could continue until the end of the year.
As of now, people who come under the category of those allowed to use postal ballot have to fill form 12D to avail the facility. The election rules are amended after the Law Minister approves changes.
Earlier, it was decided that voters in Bihar who test positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to cast their vote using postal ballot in the state assembly polls due later this year. The Election Commission had approached the ministry recently to allow COVID-19 positive voters to use postal ballot to exercise their franchise.
“It was a fit case and we have agreed to change the rules…Recently we had allowed those above 80 years of age and people with disabilities to use postal ballot. In the same list, we have included COVID positive or those having symptoms,” said an officer.