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Personnel on election duty to vote at Special Voter Facilitation centres : CEO  

 In its continuous endeavor to make the election process more efficient and transparent, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has incorporated the new section 18A in Conduct of Election Rules 1961, stating that “a voter on election duty shall receive his postal ballot, record his vote thereon and return the same at the voter facilitation centre as specified, in writing, by the Returning Officer.

This was stated by Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg here today.

The Voters on election duty would cast their ballot at a voter facilitation centre, instead of sending by post. The new rule was introduced with an aim to check the potential misuse of the postal ballot facility extended to voters on poll duty, and also to enhance their participation, he said.

 For operationalising the above provision in an effective and smooth manner, a detailed SOP has been prepared by the state election department and circulated to all District Election Officers. The detailed SOP describes in detail the steps involved from applying for postal ballots/EDC to issuance of postal ballots/EDC by the AROs, casting of votes at the voter facilitation centres and finally ensuring that the casted ballots reach the counting centres in time.  This provides for separate SOPs for polling personnel on election duty, police personnel and home guards on election duty, drivers and conductors of HRTC and other staff deployed by election offices.

The polling personnel on election duty will apply on form 12/form 12A for postal ballots/EDC to the returning officer concerned, who will send the same to the ARO where they are voters. The ARO where they are voters will prepare their postal ballots and send to the ARO where they are posted/deployed on duty. The polling personnel on election duty will cast their vote through postal ballot at the training centre during second and third trainings. This has been done to facilitate the polling personnel on duty to cast their votes at the facility before they proceed to the allotted polling stations for election duty.

Apart from this, the CEO said that the police personnel/home guards jawans deployed on election duty will be provided Form 12(PB) or Form 12A (EDC) by the Nodal officer as appointed by the Superintendent of Police. The nodal officer will sent it to the concerned ROs/AROs. As far as the HRTC staff is concerned, the Regional Manager will appoint a Nodal officer to coordinate all activities related to distribution of Form 12 (PB) or Form 12A (EDC) for drivers and conductors on election duty and will send to the concerned ROs/AROs. The other staff will apply to the concerned ARO where they are deployed and will be accordingly issued the postal ballots. These 3 categories of voters on duty will cast their vote through postal ballot at the facilitation centre set up at RO/ARO office.

Further, a clearing house will be setup at Shimla where nodal officers from every assembly segment will come with their postal ballots and handover to the respective AROs where the employees are posted or deployed to ensure that they are able to cast their votes and the casted votes reach the respective counting centres in time before the date of counting. This has been done to ensure that there is no delay in exchange of the postal ballots and consequently no one is denied the opportunity to cast their vote.

He said that the process of voting at the facilitation centres will be videographed while maintaining secrecy of voting. Also an officer will be present at the facilitation centres for attestation of declarations. Political party representatives and representatives of candidates will also be informed about the schedule and can remain present at the facilitation centres.

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