People over the age of 65 years will be able to vote by postal ballot in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission said today ahead of the assembly elections in Bihar, which is expected to be held in October-November. By-polls in Madhya Pradesh on 24 assembly seats. This facility will also be extended to people infected with coronavirus or those who are suspected of having contracted the infection and are in quarantine.
People over the age of 65 are particularly vulnerable to the virus, along with pregnant women and those suffering from chronic health conditions including diabetes, hypertension and kidney ailments.
Medical experts and the government have been continuously discouraging such people from venturing out.
The postal ballot facility has so far been reserved only for people over the age of 80, persons with disabilities and people working in in essential services who are not posted in their home state.
While the Rajya Sabha elections, slated for March, were postposed till June in view of the pandemic, there has been no word on pushing back the elections in Bihar, in which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is seeking a fifth term. The tenure of the Bihar assembly is till November 26.
Sources said the model code of conduct will be enforced in the first week of September and polling will be held in October-November. Instead of the usual five phases, it will be held in one or two phases in view of the pandemic, sources added.
"Keeping COVID-19 measures in view, the Commission has already directed to limit the number of electors in each polling station (PS) to 1000 and to create auxiliary PSs in the same location/vicinity so that the social distancing norms laid down by the health authorities can be systematically enforced at the time of polling," the Commission said in its circular issued today.