Soldiers to make dent in five assembly polls through E-Votes

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New Delhi, January 7
Election Commission of India will try out E-postal ballot system in the upcoming assembly polls in five states to give a fair chance to over 3 million voters belonging to the Armed Forces and their families. The Defence Ministry has been approached by the Commission to produce an educational film for the benefit of these voters, who are notified as “Service Voters”. The Commission has engaged the services of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) to make short films, shooting for which will be done at various military locations, like Leh for Army, Munabo for BSF, Visakhapatnam for Navy and Coast Guard and Jodhpur for Air Force. The E-Postal Balloting was implemented in the bye-election held in Nellithope Assembly (Puducherry) Constituency on 19 November last year. This was seen as a major breakthrough towards minimising the delays in the Postal Ballot system for the Defence Forces personnel. “Electronically Transmitted Postal ballot System (ETPBS),
which has already been successfully run on a pilot basis in the recently held Bye-election in Nellithope in Puducherry, will be implemented in a few identified assembly Constituencies on a pilot and trial basis in the five poll-bound States,” the Commission said, while announcing the assembly polls in five states.
The Assembly Constituencies where ETPBS will be implemented shall be selected on certain criteria based on logistics, connectivity and operational requirements, it said.
A parliamentary committee have pushed for developing ‘e-Postal Ballot’ as the first step or prelude to the switch-over to, or initiation of ‘e-voting’.
At present, members of the Armed Forces registered as the Service Voters can vote by Postal Ballot or by Proxy. They can also vote in their place of posting if they are registered as general Voters in that place for which the Election Commission of India (ECI) has laid down certain stipulations relating to minimum tenure of posting (3 years), ‘Residents with Family’, etc.
However, an estimated 3 million service people and their family members are unable to exercise their democratic right, due to cumbersome procedure involved in Proxy and Postal Voting which incidentally also include the Postal delays.
“Approximately 90 percent of the Service Personnel are denied the right to exercise their franchise owing to the inadequacies of the Postal Ballot system,” the Committee said.

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