New Delhi: The Election Commission on Thursday decided not to extend the postal ballot facility to the electors above 65 years of age in both the Assembly elections of Bihar and the by-elections due in near future, in view of constraints of logistics, manpower and safety protocols of Novel Coronavirus.
''However, the facility of optional postal ballot to electors, who are above 80 years of age, PwD Voters, the electors engaged in essential services and voters who are COVID-19 positive/suspect in quarantine (home/institutional) will be extended in these elections,'' the Election Commission said in a statement here.
''In view of COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown guidelines have been issued in the country from time to time by the National Disaster Management Authority, under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
''In the guideline dated May 17, issued by the Union Home Secretary and Chairperson National Executive Committee, constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it has been specified vide para 7 that, 'Protection of vulnerable persons: Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, shall stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.'
''Simultaneously, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare prescribed detailed procedure of quarantine (Home/Institutional) for COVID-19 positive/suspect persons vide its instructions dated April 5 and May 18,'' the Election Commission said in the statement.
Considering this extraordinary situation, the Commission had recommended extension of optional postal ballot facilities to voters above 65 years, in order to minimise their vulnerability and exposure at the Polling stations and to COVID positive voters and voters under quarantine, so that they were not deprived of their voting rights.(UNI)