Postal ballot system needs improvement: Experts

Little has been done to change the old postal ballot system, which is at the centre of a raging controversy in Uttarakhand, experts said.

Dehradun: While electronic voting machines
(EVMs) have replaced paper ballots in India, little has been
done to change the old postal ballot system, which is at the
centre of a raging controversy in Uttarakhand, experts and top
officials on Thursday said.

"This is an old age system where we feel that a lot of
improvement can be done. It can be done by bringing new
software or electronic gadgets that will allow the armed
personnel to cast their votes from the place of their
posting," said Anil Jaggi, an IT expert here.

Despite being a costly affair, the Election Commission has
not taken steps to improve the postal ballot system for the
armed forces, officials said. The cost of a postal ballot is
roughly around Rs 100 per ballot that includes the postage
which is to be paid by the state government.

"So far, politicians in our state have not shown any
interest to improve the postal ballot system in the state,"
said a top official of the state election commission.

As a war of words escalated between BJP and Congress over
the postal ballot issue in Uttarakhand, the election
commission last month had put the onus on the army for the
large number of undelivered postal ballots.

The ruling BJP, which banks on the support of army
personnel, had asked the commission to clear the air on the
controversy pertaining to the undelivered postal ballots.

This time, over 1.19 lakh people including one lakh army
personnel are casting their votes through ballot papers and
those which reach the counting centre till 8 AM of March 6
will be taken in account.

Experts said the postal ballots could play a crucial role
in as many as 20 constituencies out of the total 70 in the
hill state where assembly elections were held on January 30.

Since the time period between the polling and the
counting is very long, the election commission is expecting
the polling percentage of the postal ballots to be heavy.

Meanwhile, even as BJP general secretary Dharmendra
Paradhan, who is incharge of the party affairs in the hill
state, accused Railways and Postal Department of not
delivering the postal ballots, Congress today slammed the BJP
for raking up the issue.

"BJP knows that it has already lost the race. So, it is
enacting the drama to distract the people?s attention from
real issues," said Surendra Kumar, a state Congress spokesman.

In the past, Congress had alleged that postal ballots had
marred the chances of their candidates including that of
senior Congress leader Satpal Maharaj in the 2008 Pauri Lok
Sabha by-election.


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