Postal Ballot System
Postal voting is a system of voting in an election where ballot papers are distributed to electors or voters (and typically returned) by post, in contrast to electors voting in person at a polling station or electronically via an electronic voting system.
Through this facility, a voter can cast her vote remotely by recording his/her preference on the ballot paper and sending it back to the election officer before counting.
Currently, only the following are allowed to vote through postal ballot system:
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),
2. Government employees posted outside India and their spouses
3. Voters under preventive detention
4. Special voters such as the President of India, Vice President, Governors, Union 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 this facility.
5. Recently, keeping in mind the safety of senior citizens amid rising cases of the coronavirus, the Law Ministry has allowed those aged 65 years and above to opt for postal ballot in Lok Sabha and assembly elections. It also allowed “COVID 19 suspect or affected persons” to use the postal ballot facility.
6. Earlier, the Law Ministry also introduced a new category of ‘absentee voters’, who can opt for postal voting. These are voters employed in essential services and unable to cast their vote due to their service conditions. Currently, officials of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Northern Railway (Passenger and Freight) Services and media persons are notified as absentee voters.
7. Also 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 postal ballot during Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
The Returning Officer is duty bound to print ballot papers within 24 hours of the last date of nomination withdrawal and dispatch them within a day to ensure that the ballot papers reach the concerned voter well before the polling date and they have enough time to send it back before the counting day.
Postal ballot papers for members of the Armed Forces are sent through their record offices. For members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state), government employees posted outside India and their spouses, the ballot paper can be sent through post or electronically. For remaining categories ballot papers can be delivered personally or through post.
After receiving it, the voter can mark their preference with a tick mark or cross mark against the candidate’s namep along a duly attested declaration to the effect that they have marked the ballot paper. The ballot paper and the declaration are then placed in a sealed cover and sent back to the Returning Officer before the time fixed for the commencement of counting of votes.