Election Commission Current Affairs - 2019

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Former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan passed away

Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan, the man behind several electoral reforms passed away due to a cardiac arrest. He was 87 years old and was not well for the past couple of years. He was the 10th Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). He served between 1990 and 1996

About TN Seshan

TN Seshan was a 1955 batch retired IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre. He was born in Palakkad district of Kerala. Before becoming a CEC, he served around 18 cabinet secretaries. He has also won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his services in 1986. The award is considered as Asia’s Nobel Prize.

In 1997, he unsuccessfully contested the Presidential Elections against KR Narayanan.

Electoral Reforms by Seshan

  • Mr Seshan is credited for introducing Election Commission’s constitutional powers that keep the politicians under check
  • During his tenure the two additional Election Commissioners were appointed by the centre.
  • It was during his period as the CEC the following were made offensive
    • Bribing voters
    • Distributing alcohol during elections
    • Approaching voters to appeal on caste or community basis
    • Using official machinery for campaigning
    • Using worship places for campaigning
    • Use of loud speakers and high-volume music
  • The following laws were implemented during his period
    • Implementation of strict Code of Conduct
    • A limit was imposed on the election expenditure of the candidate
    • Issuance of voter IDs

Postal ballot for disabled & voters aged above 80

On the recommendation of Election Commission, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice has amended Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, on October 22 that will now allow senior citizens and person with disabilities (PwD) in absentee voter list. The absentee voter refers to a vote cast by someone who is unable to go to polling station.

Key Highlights

The disabled and people with more than 80 years of age can now cast their vote through postal ballot. This will enable people from these two categories to cast their votes with ease and will also thus increase voter turnout.

In both these categories there are people who are unable to reach polling stations and thus are unable to cast their votes. Currently voting through postal ballot is available to Indian armed forces and to those assigned poll duties.

The poll officer will attest absentee voter in case of senior citizens and PwDs in form 13A.

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, about 60.14% of absentee voters voted through e-postal ballot while in the general election during 2014 this figure was just 4%.