The postal ballot facility for people above the age of 65 years -- recommended by the Election Commission earlier this month -- will not be operative for the Bihar assembly elections or the by-polls scheduled to be held later this year. The Commission said it was done "due to logistics, manpower and safety protocols of COVID-19".
The postal ballot facility was so far reserved only for people over the age of 80 years and those employed in essential services and are not posted in their home state.
Earlier this month, then Commission had recommended extension of postal ballot to people over the age of 65 years, and others vulnerable to coronavirus. The facility was also to be extended to people infected with coronavirus or those who are suspected of having contracted the infection and are in quarantine.
All of it was supposed to be implemented during assembly elections in Bihar, due in October-November this year, along with by-polls in Madhya Pradesh.
But Bihar has decided to create another 34,000-odd polling stations -- an increase of 45 per cent -- taking take the total number of polling stations to around 1.06 lakh. This, the Commission said, would entail formidable logistical challenges of mobilizing 1.8 lakh more polling personnel and other additional resources. The by-elections would entail similar challenges.
The increase came as the Election Commission decided to cut down on manpower -- limiting the number of electors at each polling station to 1,000 -- given the situation after the coronavirus outbreak.
In the same circular where it announced the extension of postal ballot, the Commission said: "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".
Today, the commission said in view of the challenges and constraints, it has been decided not to issue the notification to extend postal ballot for the elderly.