Postal Ballots – UPSC Prelims

What is a Postal Ballot?
  • It is a facility whereby a voter can cast his/her vote remotely. The user cast the vote by recording preference on the ballot paper and sending it back to the election officer before counting.
  • Section 60 of the RP Act,1951 provides for the person to be given a postal ballot facility. However, the Election commission requires consulting with the government.
Who can avail the Postal Ballot facility currently?
  • Members of the armed forces like the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
  • Members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state)
  • Government employees posted outside India and their spouses
  • Voters under preventive detention
  • Special voters such as the President of India, Vice President, Governors, Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the House, and government officers on poll duty have the option to vote by post. But they have to apply through a prescribed form to avail of this facility.
  • Absentee Voters: These are voters who are unable to cast their vote due to their service conditions or other conditions. They include voters a) employed in essential services b) Persons with disabilities and c) senior citizens above 80 years of age.
Note: In 2020, the Election Commission has allowed senior citizens above the age of 65 and COVID-19 positive voters to cast their vote by post.
Procedure for voting through Postal Ballots for these three categories:
  • People permitted to cast a postal ballot can choose to vote by filling up Form 12D. After filling them, he/she can submit the form to the nodal officer within five days of notification of an election.
  • Officials would then visit the houses of the voters on a fixed day before the day of polling. They will receive their ballots in ballot boxes physically. However, indelible ink will not be applied on the fingers of electors.
  • Further, those who have filled 12-D forms will not be allowed to cast votes at the polling booths.
What about Postal Ballot facilities for NRI voters?
  • The Election Commission of India(ECI) put forward the proposal of extending postal ballots to overseas electors in 2020.
  • The proposal has been referred to the Ministry of External Affairs. The Ministry has said that a wider consultation should be held with different stakeholders before extending this facility.
Why in news?
Election Commission of India has said that the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will not be able to vote by postal ballots for the upcoming elections in five states.
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