Bypolls: COVID-19 patients can vote through postal ballot
Polling in Sira, R.R. Nagar segments is scheduled for November 3
To ensure that none misses out on voting in the bypolls amid the pandemic, the Election Commission has extended postal ballot facility for voters with physical disabilities, those aged above 80, and active COVID-19 positive patients or suspected patients who are either in institutional or home quarantine.
The bypolls to Sira and Rajarajeshwarinagar Assembly segments are scheduled for November 3.
- Active COVID-19 patients
- Those suspected to have COVID-19
- Physically challenged persons
- Those aged above 80
A circular from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, said that voters coming under these three categories have time till October 13 to apply for postal ballot. The returning officer will make arrangement to deliver the postal ballot and collect the same before the date fixed for the polling – November 3.
The release added that the application for the postal ballot should be accompanied by a copy of certificate/instructions from competent health authorities that says that the applicant is hospitalised in the State or in quarantine within the State — home or institutional — on account of COVID-19. The elector, the release added, will be intimated in advance about the date and time of visit by poll officials. Such intimation may be given through SMS, by post and/or through booth-level officers.
The provision for voting through postal ballot for COVID-19 patients was first extended by the Election Commission of India for the upcoming Bihar elections. Following recommendation by the poll panel and subsequent amendments by the Law Ministry in October last year, voters with physical disabilities and those aged above 80 are allowed to vote through postal ballot.
According to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s Special Commissioner (Administration) J. Manjunath, who is also the Additional District Election Officer for Rajarajeshwarinagar bypolls, poll officials have already identified 696 people with disabilities and 5,660 people aged above 80 who were eligible to vote in the bypolls.
“With new cases being reported every day, the number of active COVID-19 patients is a dynamic figure,” he said.
To be hand-delivered
The 381 booth-level officers (BLOs) will be assisted by a separate team constituted to hand deliver the 12D form to those eligible for postal ballot.
Health officials, who are in touch with active COVID-19 patients, will assist the BLOs in the activity, Mr. Manjunath said.
“Once the voters indicate that they will opt for postal ballot, we will mark it in the voters’ list. This way, they will not be allowed to vote on the day of the polling in the booths. This will also help check proxy voting,” he said, and added that all requests would be reviewed.