CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, has slammed the Commission’s recent decision to provide the option of postal ballots to voters aged 65 and above. Mr. Yechuri said the move will put a large number of voters out of physical verifiability matrix and give the ruling government an advantage.
He demanded that the Election Commission immediately call various political parties for consultations to review the decision. Mr. Yechury accused the EC of taking unilateral decisions “bypassing the established practice of consulting political parties”. On June 19, the Law Ministry amended the Conduct of the Elections Rules, allowing those aged 65 years and above to opt for postal ballots. The amended rules also provide “COVID-19 suspect or affected persons” with the same option.
“Our electoral system has always treated physical verifiability of the voters as the bedrock of integrity. With the two amendments to the rules, a very large number of voters will be out of the verifiability matrix,” Mr. Yechury wrote. This assumes great significance because of instances of manipulation and malpractice even with the comparatively low number of postal ballots used by service personnel on election duty, he further added.
These changes, he said, raise a question on the transparency and integrity of the process and “the leverage available to the incumbent administration in organising the postal ballots”.
“With the unresolved question of opaque electoral bonds on poll funding, which remains pending before the Supreme Court, where the ECI has itself agreed with us that this poses a major challenge in monitoring and supervising income/expenditure, this new use of postal ballots will further aggravate the situation in potential favour of the ruling party,” Mr. Yechury added.