The Ministry of Law and Justice has published a notification permitting people over the age of 65 to vote in elections via postal ballot, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Elderly persons are believed to be more vulnerable to the virus, along with children, pregnant women and those suffering from co-morbid conditions.

The Bihar Assembly elections are expected to be held by November this year, followed by the West Bengal polls early in 2021. So far, the postal ballot facility was available only to people over 80 years of age and those working in essential services outside their home states. The notification will come into effect as the “Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2020”.

The notification was first issued on June 19, but publicised by the Election Commission of India only on Thursday. The postal ballot facility will also be extended to people who are infected or those who are suspected of having contracted the infection and are in quarantine.

India has the fourth-largest number of coronavirus cases in the world. As of Thursday evening, the country had reported 6,04,641 cases and 17,834 deaths from the contagion, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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