Patna: The Election Commission (EC) today announced that over 52,000 eligible voters have opted for postal ballots in 71 Bihar Assembly constituencies, which will go to the polls in the first phase on October 28.

Nearly 13% of the eligible elderly (over 80) and voters with physical disabilities have decided to opt for the postal ballot drop-off and pick-up facility for the first phase of the Bihar assembly election.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) had decided that booth-level officials would visit the homes of 1.6 million people, of which almost 1 million are elderly and the remaining are differently abled, to see if they would like to exercise their franchise via postal ballot.

The decision was taken amid Covid-19, which can be fatal for those with comorbidities, to ensure safety of all the electors. The ECI visited Bihar for a pre-poll assessment from September 29 to October 1.

Also read: Bihar elections: Nitish begins campaign with '15 years vs 15 years' pitch

"These electors will be provided postal ballots on pre-informed date(s) by the Returning Officers with proper security and videography arrangements to ensure secrecy, safety, and transparency in the process. This is the first time that postal ballot facility is being extended to both the categories in Bihar elections," the EC said.

Booth-level officers (BLOs) are required to submit the forms and the acknowledgement slips within five days of the notification and submit them to the returning officer.

“In the subsequent two phases of elections in Bihar and in by-elections in all other states, this exercise will continue so that the electoral process becomes more accessible, inclusive and safe for these categories during the period of Covid-19. BLOs will visit approximately 12 lakh such electors’ homes in Bihar in the next two phases for this purpose,” the ECI added in its statement.

Booth Level Officers of 71 Assembly Constituencies in Bihar have reached out to more than four lakh such electors. Remaining voters intend to visit the booth on the poll day for voting.

Bihar will vote in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7. The results will be declared on November 10. In all, 72 million people will cast their votes to elect legislators to the 243-member assembly.