Coronavirus Patients and Citizens Above 65 Eligible for Postal Ballot, Says EC Ahead of Bihar Polls

The Centre has issued a notification to extend the facility of postal ballot for electors above the age of 65 years and coronavirus patients ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections later this year.

The Bihar State Election Commission on Wednesday said coronavirus patients and those above the age of 65 will be allowed to vote from home or use postal ballot in the elections.

Keeping the coronavirus pandemic in mind, the state EC directed that only 1,000 voters be allowed at each polling booth and the number of booths be increased.

In a gazette notification issued last month, the Ministry of Law and Justice gave its nod for amending the Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules 2020, which extended the postal ballot facility for electors above the age of 65 and coronavirus patients under home/institutional quarantine, said the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The decision follows the EC's proposal last month in which it had requested the ministry to enlarge the ambit of use of postal ballot facility to people aged 65 years, reducing it from 80 years, and those under quarantine or home isolation due to Covid-19.

Medical research has shown while people of all ages can be infected by coronavirus, elderly people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) are more vulnerable to the disease.

According to a Health Ministry advisory, citizens above 65 years have been advised to stay indoors due to the coronavirus.

On the recommendation of the EC, on October 22 last year, the 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 homes.

Last month, the EC not only requested the Ministry of Law and Justice to extend the postal ballot facilities to all electors above 65 years of age, but also to all Covid-19-positive electors under home isolation or institutional quarantine to reduce crowding at the polling stations.

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