21, Jul 2020 | Special Correspondent
The facility of postal ballots should be extended to migrant workers, a group of civil rights organisations have said in a letter to Election Commission (EC).
The Citizens for Justice and Peace, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Bangla Sanskriti Manch, All India Union of Forest Working People and the Bharatiya Nagrik Adhikar Suraksha Manch have pointed out in their memorandum that migrant workers are often unable to cast their votes as they are away from their home State.
“By giving migrant labourers the right to cast their vote through the postal ballot, the Election Commission of India would be taking a step towards a more inclusive democracy, ensuring that every segment of the adult and eligible Indian population gets to cast their vote and is not excluded for reasons of exigencies of their profession,” the memorandum says.
As per the 2011 Census, there are 45 crore migrant workers in India. The memorandum points to a 2012 study that revealed 78% of the migrant labourers surveyed possessed Voter ID cards and had their names present on the voting lists of their home cities or villages. The majority of them were unable to travel for voting alone.
“Migrant labourers are a special class of persons who are effectively being excluded from exercising their franchise, resulting from and in turn causing immense economic and social hardships, that we submit could be effectively addressed by allowing them access to the postal ballot,” the memorandum says.
Following the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Defence in 2016, the EC had extended the postal ballot facility to defence personnel and their families. Over 16 lakh defence personnel have registered as service voters. The Election Commission recently extended the facility of postal ballot to those above 65 years of age. They, however, had to withdraw it following protests from Opposition parties.
The original report by The Hindu may be read here.