EC simplifies voting procedure for Kashmiri migrants

Ritika Chopra
Lok Sabha Election 2019 Date: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora at a press conference. (file)

Kashmiri migrants who seek to vote in person at transitory camps in Delhi, Jammu, and Udhampur will soon be able to register for the facility with their local Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) where they are currently living.

The Election Commission (EC) is learnt to have recently shared a proposal to tweak its special scheme for Kashmiri migrant voters to enable them to submit 'Form M' to their local ERO, who will then send it electronically to the designated Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) to process the request.

'Form M' is meant exclusively for Kashmiri migrants keen on voting in person at 26 special polling stations set up by the EC across three transitory camps. The 26 polling stations cover 44 Assembly seats from where Kashmiris migrated.

Earlier, those choosing to vote at a transitory camp had to travel to either Delhi or Jammu or Udhampur to apply for this facility or dispatch 'Form M' by mail. The proposed change, EC expects, will cut down the processing time and make the application process easier.

In addition to the above, Kashmiri migrants are also entitled to cast their vote by postal ballot for which they have submit 'Form 12C' to the designated ARO in Jammu by post. The Commission, as part of its proposal to Law ministry, has also sought to allow such voters to submit 'Form 12C' to the local ERO where they are living, who will then, after verification, dispatch the form electronically to the ARO in Jammu.

Besides appearing in person to vote, the postal ballot, which was dispatched and received by normal mail until now, will be permitted to be sent by speed post, the EC has proposed.

The Commission's special scheme for Kashmiri migrant voters has been in place since the 1996 Assembly elections in the state. This scheme was devised for migrants who had left their homes in the Kashmir Valley after April 1, 1989, but wanted their names to be continued in the electoral rolls of their native places.