First vote in polls cast from Arunachal Pradesh

First vote in polls cast from Arunachal Pradesh

The first vote in this Lok Sabha election has been cast on Friday! Deputy Inspector General Sudhakar Natarajan of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), a service voter, has cast the vote on April 5 at Lohitpur in Arunachal Pradesh, which is in the eastern tip of the north-east and 2,600 km from New Delhi.

While the first phase of polling is on April 11, all registered Service Voters have been delivered e-postal ballot of their respective constituency through electronically transmitted postal ballot (ETPBS) and after casting the vote will be sent back to Returning Officer by post.

Personnel of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, Border Road Organization, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Assam Rifles, National Security Guards, Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal are eligible to be registered as service voters. The spouse of a service voter shall, if she is ordinarily residing with him, be also deemed to be a service voter in the constituency specified by that person.

Natarajan, the head of the Animal Training School (ATC) of ITBP in Lohitpur was the first to vote followed by others in the unit as part of the exercise. This is the first vote of India that has been cast, an ITBP spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said ballot papers have been despatched to Uttrakhand, Gujarat, Bangalore, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, UP and many other places. Other ITBP units deployed in Arunachal Pradesh also cast their votes through postal ballot, the spokesperson said.

"This year, the Election Commission has taken many steps to add more and more service voters in the process. Awareness campaigns through electronic, social, print and other media was given due attention since last year," he said adding this would probably for the first time that a large number of service voters count is expected.

According to the Election Commission, there are 16,77,386 service electors, including 43,100 women, in the electoral rolls. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of 2,54,950 service voters followed by Bihar with 1,39,815 such voters. Karnataka has 39,539 service voters, including 804 women.

The rules said that a person having service qualification can get enrolled as 'service voter' at his/her native place even though he/she may actually be residing at a different place. Such voters have, however, an option to get themselves enrolled as general elector at the place of their posting as well.

The Election Commission said the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System enables the entitled service voters to cast their vote using an electronically received postal ballot from anywhere outside their constituency. It reduces the time period for the dispatch of the postal ballot to the entitled service voters.

"The details of the concerned voters are auto filled in the postal ballot, delivered through electronic media by this system. It is a fully secured system with two layers of security. Secrecy is maintained through the use of OTP and PIN and no duplication of casted Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot is possible due to the unique QR Code," it said.