EC won’t allow def staff to vote at posting place
Bharti Jain TNN
New Delhi: Months after the then chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, N A K Browne, wrote to the Election Commission seeking the right of members of the armed forces to be registered at the place of their posting just like a general voter, the election panel has positioned itself against the proposal.
Sources in the EC told TOI it was disinclined to allowing soldiers to vote from their cantonments or military stations, as the results in such constituencies could be influenced by the sheer number of such voters on the rolls rather than the locals’ preference.
The risk, an EC official said, was more in Jammu & Kashmir and northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, which are thinly populated but have heavy military presence. Besides, in many constituencies in Kashmir, where the voter turnout could be very low, the participation of the local military unit may alter poll results.
“How can one rule out the risk of a ruling dispensation trying to influence results by getting a large unit, like a brigade, to relocate to a particular area just six months before a poll?” asked the EC official.
The EC may present its arguments against allowing defence service voters to vote from the place of their posting to the defence and home ministries when their representatives meet here on Tuesday to discuss the issue. While arguing for a status quo that treats service personnel differently from ordinary voters in the coming Lok Sabha elections, the commission, however, will insist on cooperation of the armed forces to make the postal ballot and proxy voting mechanism more effective.
There is, however, a view in the EC that internet voting facility for the armed forces and embassy staff could be considered.
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