Government against allowing servicemen to vote at place of posting


A suggestion for allowing defence personnel to cast their votes at the constituency of their posting has found little favour in the government, which feels it is not feasible because of strategic factors and other complexities.

However, the government is yet to take the final call on the ticklish issue which is to come up in the Supreme Court on tomorrow.

There is a view in the government that granting right to defence personnel to cast their vote at the place of their posting is “not feasible” due to various reasons, sources said on Sunday.

“Allowing servicemen to cast their vote at the place of their current posting also involves the issue of security. If they exercise their voting right at the place of their posting, it could give out details of their deployment,” a source said while explaining the hesitation.

He claimed that granting such a right could also mean that in a forward area where soldiers outnumber local residents, the armed forces would be the deciding factor over the locals in the victory of a candidate.

“As it is, their right to vote is protected. Defence personnel can take leave and cast their vote at the place where they are registered as voters. They can also use postal ballot. They are the only ones allowed ‘proxy voting’, by which they can authorise their next of kin to vote on their behalf for the candidate of their choice,” said the source.

But the government agrees that there is need to streamline the system of postal ballots as servicemen have often complained that they fail to get the ballot on time, denying them the opportunity to exercise their right.

The issue has been discussed at the meetings of Committee of Secretaries chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.