The Election Commission of India (ECI) has amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 to facilitate the e-transfer of postal ballot. The new rules empower a returning officer in any constituency to send postal ballots to an eligible voter by electronic means as specified by the ECI. In India, postal ballots have played a critical role in extending the electoral process to voters who are unable to exercise theirfranchise due to either the nature of their job or geographical location of their posting. How the e-transfer of postal ballot will work? Under it, the returning officer can send ballot through a web portal with a ‘One Time Password (OTP)’ to voters. The voter needs to download the ballot for voting. The voter after voting will physically return the ballot through post. It should be noted that two-way e-voting has not been recommended by the Election Commission, citing security and secrecy concerns. What is significance of the new rule? The e-transfer of postal ballot will replace existing system in which postal ballots were sent through the Department of Posts. It will ease the logistical issues involved in ensuring that the ballot paper of the constituency, where a voter is eligible to vote, is sent in time. Thus, it will cut time in transmission of the ballot paper and help the EC overcome logistical problems.
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