Postal ballot may play a key role in polls

 thehindu.com  08/02/2020 17:51:46 

The State Election Commission (SEC) and the government may have to explore the option of postal voting to ensure the participation of senior citizens, COVID-19 patients, and those in quarantine in the local body elections proposed to be held in October last or early November.

The commission is understood to have proposed proxy voting and postal ballot as options for those above the age of 65, COVID-19 patients, and those in quarantine. But those familiar with the election process told The Hindu that the chances of rigging are too high in proxy voting.

If a voter engages a proxy to cast her vote, she can never be sure that the former will execute her will.

Proxy problems

To make it foolproof, a voter sending a proxy will have to give a letter and demand that the vote is cast as per her desire in the presence of a polling official. Voting being a confidential process, demanding the presence of an official while voting is not possible.

Finding proxies who are trustworthy is not easy either. Moreover, the facility may be widely misused by political parties in their strongholds. Those wielding clout among the masses may also misuse it to their advantage.

Such complexities may prompt the government and the commission to settle for postal ballot. A recent proposal of the Central Election Commission to extend postal ballot to those above 80 years may also come in handy for the SEC and the government while going through various options.

Polling time

Even if the virus threat eases, the commission could ill-afford to completely do away with the COVID-19 protocol. If the current surge in the number of cases is an indication, a total turnaround in the next two months would not be easy, sources said.

The government would discuss the commissions proposals and issue an Ordinance for amending the Kerala Panchayati Raj and the Municipalities Act.

Along with the mode of voting, the government would consider other proposals such as extending the polling time by an hour to give adequate time for all to cast their vote by adhering to the COVID-19 physical distancing norms.

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