Lakhs of defence personnel posted around the country will be able to enlist their proxy voters for higher participation in elections.
After a visit of Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla and Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and S.V. Sampant in advance areas, the Election Commission has asked electoral officers in 18 states to make special arrangements for defence personnel to enlist themselves and appoint their proxy voters.
“During the visit we found that not only jawans but even senior army officers were not aware about proxy voting. We have now asked electoral officers to run special awareness campaign for defence personnel on proxy voting,” Chawla said.
Under the rules, government officials away on duty, can authorise a person to cast vote on their behalf. This method was introduced in 2003 but many personnel were not aware about the provision, resulting in their low participation in elections.
Most defence personnel knew about postal ballots but did not find it useful as the ballots reached counting stations after the election process was over. “The window of 14 days for completion of postal ballot process is very small,” Chawla said.
The Commission has decided that district election officers where defence personnel are posted will take proactive steps to enlist them and make them aware about proxy voting.
In a letter to Chief Electoral Officers, the Commission said personnel should be explained the benefits of proxy voting. “The form for proxy voting should be made available to personnel while enlisting them as service voters,” the letter said.