In an important decision ahead of the Bihar Assembly election, the Election Commission announced that people above 65 years of age and coronavirus COVID-19 patients will now be eligible to vote through postal ballot. This decision will be applied in the Bihar election.
Taking to Twitter, EC Spokesperson on Thursday tweeted, “Notification for Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules 2020 – for extending Postal Ballot Facility for electors above the age of 65yrs & Covid+ve under home/institutional quarantined.”
The amendment in the rules was notified in a gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice in June.
The official statement read, “The Central Government, after consulting the Election Commission, hereby makes the following rules…In the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, in rule 27A,– (i) in clause (aa), after the words “or persons with disability” occurring at the end, the words, letters and figures “or the COVID 19 suspect or affected persons” shall be inserted; (ii) in clause (e), for the figures and word “80 years”, the figures and word “65 years” shall be substituted ; (iii) after clause (e), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:-(f) ” COVID 19 suspect or affected persons” means the electors who are—(i) tested as COVID 19 positive by the Government Hospital or the Hospital recognised by the Government as COVID Hospital; or (ii) under home quarantine or institutional quarantine due to COVID 19, and certified by such competent authority, as may be notified by the State Government or Union territory Administration.”
The decision follows the Election Commission`s June proposal 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, according to news agency IANS.
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 coronavirus.