The Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Friday said that the Law Ministry has given its nod to a proposal to allow those over 65 years to use postal ballot to cast their vote in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Election Commission has proposed to lower the age of eligible voters for postal ballot to 65 years from 80 years, a move which will allow more people to cast their vote.
Medical research has shown that while people of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus, elderly people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) are more vulnerable to the disease. According to advisory issued by the health ministry, citizens above 65 years have been advised to stay indoors due to coronavirus.
"On the recommendation of the ECI, on 22 October 2019, the legal amendment enabling postal ballot facility to senior citizens above the age of 80 years and for persons with disability, was introduced to provide them the choice of voting from the comforts of their residence," Arora told The Print.
"On similar lines, the Commission has now factored to enlarge the ambit and recommended to Ministry of Law and Justice to extend the postal ballot facilities to all electors of above 65 years of age as well as to all Covid-19-positive electors under home or institutional quarantine so that crowding at the polling stations is reduced," he added.
"It is learnt that ECI's recommendation has been agreed upon and necessary notification is being issued accordingly," Arora said.
Last year, the Law Ministry had amended 'Conduct of Election Rules', allowing 'absentee voters' of essential services, senior citizens of more than 80 years of age and people with disabilities to cast their vote via postal ballot.