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Service Voter

Topics Covered:

  1. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Service Voter


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Who is a Service Voter, how can he cast vote, significance and challenges associated.


Context: The soldiers of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were the first to cast their vote for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Arunachal Pradesh as Service Voters.

  • Service voter belonging to defence and paramilitary forces have the option of either voting through postal ballot or through a proxy voter duly appointed by him/her.
  • There are roughly 30 lakh service voters including defence and paramilitary forces who (in many cases with families at family stations) will cast their votes through service voter facility.


Who is a service voter?

Service voter is a voter having service qualification. According to the provisions of sub – section (8) of Section 20 of Representation of People Act, 1950, service qualification means:

  • Being a member of the armed Forces of the Union ; or
  • Being a member of a force to which provisions of the Army Act, 1950 (46 of 1950), have been made applicable whether with or without modification ;
  • Being a member of an Armed Police Force of a State, and serving outside that state; or
  • Being a person who is employed under the Government of India, in a post outside India.


How is a service voter different from an ordinary elector?

While an ordinary elector is registered in the electoral roll of the constituency in which his place of ordinary residence is located, person having service qualification can get enrolled as ‘service voter’ at his native place even though he actually may be residing at a different place (of posting). He has, however, an option to get himself enrolled as general elector at the place of his posting where he factually, at the point of time, is residing ordinarily with his family for a sufficient span of time.


Are members of all Armed Forces / Para Military Forces eligible to be enrolled as service voters?

As per the existing arrangements, members of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force and personnel of General Reserve Engineer 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.


Is wife or son/daughter of a service voter also enrolled as a service voter?

The wife 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. The service voter has to make a statement to the effect in the relevant Form 2/2A/3 that his wife ordinarily resides with him. The wife will be enrolled as a service voter on the basis of declaration made by her husband in the application form itself submitted by him and no separate declaration / application is required to be made by the wife. A son / daughter / relative / servant etc. residing ordinarily with a service voter cannot be enrolled as service voter.


Is facility of enrollment as a service voter available to the husband of a female service voter?

Under the existing law, this facility is available only to the wife of a male service voter and is not available to the husband of a female service voter.


Can one be enrolled simultaneously as a service voter at his native place as well as a general voter at the place of posting?

No. A person, at a particular time, cannot be enrolled as a voter at more than one place in view of the provisions contained under Sections 17 and 18 of Representation of People Act, 1950. Likewise, no person can be enrolled as an elector more than once in any electoral roll.


Who is a Classified Service Voter?

Service voter belonging to Armed Forces or forces to which provisions of Army Act, 1950 are applicable, has 0ption of either voting through postal ballot or through a proxy voter duly appointed by him. A service voter who opts for voting through a proxy is called Classified Service Voter (CSV).


Who is a ‘proxy’?

A service voter may appoint (by applying to Returning Officer in Form 13 F of Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 – Form available at the website of Election Commission) any person as his / her proxy to give vote on his / her behalf and in his / her name at the polling station. The proxy shall have to be ordinary resident of that constituency. He need not be a registered voter but he / she must not be disqualified to be registered as a voter.

The provision for voting through proxy is valid till the person making the appointment is a service voter.


Sources: the hindu.