Electoral Reforms In India

Postal Ballot Voting: Eligibility and Process for Lok Sabha elections 2024


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Postal Ballot Voting

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced that media persons covering “polling day activities” are now eligible to vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2024 and state Assembly polls through postal ballots.

What are Postal Ballots?

  • Postal ballots, also known as mail-in ballots, allow registered voters to cast their votes by mail instead of physically going to a polling station.
  • It is governed by the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.
  • This system serves as a convenient alternative for individuals unable to vote in person due to various circumstances, such as being away from their home constituency, facing a disability, or performing essential services on Election Day.

Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS)


  • The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended in 2016 to allow service voters to use the ETPBS. Under this system, postal ballots are sent electronically to registered service voters.
  • The service voter can then download the ETPB (along with a declaration form and covers), register their mandate on the ballot and send it to the returning officer of the constituency via ordinary mail.
  • The post will include an attested declaration form (after being signed by the voter in the presence of an appointed senior officer who will attest it).

Who is eligible to cast their vote through postal ballots?

Eligible electors who can opt to vote through postal ballots include:

  • Special voters: It includes President of India, Vice President, Governors, and Union Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the House and government officers on poll duty.
  • Service voters: Members of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and government employees deployed on election duty far from their home constituencies.
  • Absentee voters: Individuals unable to vote in person due to reasons like work commitments, illness, or disability. Senior citizens above 80 years are also included.
  • Electors on election duty: Government officials and polling staff assigned duties at polling stations other than their own.
  • Electors under preventive detention: Individuals detained under preventive custody orders during the election period.
  • Divyangjans: In October 2019, the Ministry of Law and Justice amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, lowered the age from 85 to 80 and allowed Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) to cast votes through postal ballots in the 2020 Delhi Assembly polls.
  • Essential services covering polling day activities: Media persons with authorisation letters from the EC and those involved in essential services such as metros, railways, and healthcare have the option to vote using postal ballots in Lok Sabha and four state Assembly polls.

Applying for a postal ballot

  • To apply for a postal ballot, eligible voters must apply, Form 12 D, to the returning officer (RO) of their respective constituency.
  • The application typically requires personal details, voter identification information, and the reason for seeking a postal ballot.
  • For service voters, the RO sends the postal ballot paper through the record office, directly or through the Ministry of External Affairs for service voters serving outside India.
  • For senior citizens, a team of two polling officials, a videographer, and security personnel will visit the residence of the elector to facilitate this process.

What is the process of postal voting?

  • Receiving the postal ballot: Once approved, the RO sends the postal ballot to the voter’s registered address, including the ballot paper, declaration form, secrecy sleeve, and pre-paid return envelope.
  • Marking the ballot: Voters mark their preferred candidate(s) on the ballot paper in the secrecy sleeve to ensure confidentiality.
  • Completing the declaration form: Voters fill out the declaration form, providing their signature and other relevant details.
  • Sealing the envelope: Voters seal the marked ballot paper and declaration form inside the secrecy sleeve and place it into the pre-paid return envelope.
  • Returning the postal ballot: Voters affix the postage stamp and mail the return envelope to the designated address within the specified time.

Counting of postal ballots

  • Postal ballots are counted separately from votes cast at polling stations.
  • On the designated counting day, postal ballots are collected by postal authorities and brought to the counting centre.
  • The RO and election officials scrutinise postal ballots for validity and integrity, adding valid ballots to the respective candidate’s vote count.



Q.For election to the Lok Sabha, a nomination paper can be filed by-

  1. Anyone residing in India.
  2. A resident of the constituency from which the election is to be contested.
  3. Any citizen of India whose name appears in the electoral roll of a constituency.
  4. Any citizen of India.


Practice MCQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The right to cast vote is not a fundamental right
  2. NRI settled in foreign land can become an elector in the electoral roll in India
  3. Individuals in lawful custody of the police and those serving a sentence of imprisonment after conviction cannot vote

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1,2 and 3

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