Voting from home in Lok Sabha elections 2024: Eligibility, process and other rules

Voters aged 85 and above and persons with disabilities must submit Form 12D within 5 days of poll notification release. 

The Lok Sabha elections 2024 are scheduled to be held in seven phases between April 19th and June 1st. For the first time, senior citizens aged above 85 and persons with 40% and above disabilities will be able to vote from home. The voters in these two categories must file Form 12 D with the Election Commission.

Those who opt for vote-from-home will not be allowed to vote from the polling booth on voting day. 

Eligibility for postal ballots

Rule 27A of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 has been amended to provide the optional postal ballot facility to ‘Absentee Voters’. 

‘Absentee voter’ has been defined in clause (aa) of Rule-27A of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, and includes:

  • Persons employed in essential services
  • Senior citizens above 85 years
  • Persons with Disabilities (with benchmark or above disability)
  • COVID-19 suspect or affected persons

The category of essential services is notified by the Election Commission under Section 60(C) of the R.P. Act, 1951 in consultation with the Government. 

Others eligible to vote from home

  • Media persons covering polling activities. They must carry authorisation letters from the Election Commission 
  • Service workers such as those who work in metros, railways and health care
  • Personnel of the armed forces posted away from home
  • Central Armed Police personnel posted away from home, and those on poll duty  
  • All persons appointed on election duty who are not able to cast their vote at the polling station where they are enrolled as a voter are entitled to the facility of either an EDC or a postal ballot

Procedures for voting through postal ballot 

An absentee voter, who wants to vote by postal ballot, has to make an application to the Returning Officer (RO) of the constituency concerned, in Form-12D, providing all requisite particulars. Applications for postal ballot facility should reach the RO during the period from date of announcement of election to five days following the date of notification of the election concerned.

The date of notification of the election is different for each phase:

  • Phase one was notified on March 20th-vote from home is underway and will continue till April 14th
  • Phase two was notified on March 28th
  • Phase 3 will be notified on April 12th
  • Phase 4 will be notified on April 18th
  • Phase 5 will be notified on April 26th
  • Phase 6 will be notified on April 29th
  • Phase 7 will be notified on May 7th
ink mark on a finger, indicating voting
Representative image. Senior citizens aged 85 and above and persons with disability who opt for voting from home will not be allowed to vote directly in a polling booth. Pic: Yogesh Mhatre, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Read more: Lok Sabha 2024: Know your MP — Dayanidhi Maran, Chennai Central


In case of absentee voters belonging to Persons with Disability category, who opt for postal ballot, application (Form 12D) should be accompanied by a copy of benchmark disability certificate specified by the concerned appropriate Government, under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.  

People with disabilities can also avail of the vote from home facility by filling out form 12 D, if their name is registered in the ARO network as having a disability. First time voters with disability will have to get a certificate from a civil surgeon certifying their disability and submit it to the concerned ARO to be included in the network.

Teams working under the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) will also be going door to door to distribute these forms. The forms can also be downloaded from the ECI website and submitted to the officers when they visit your home. Along with these forms, senior citizens will be expected to provide proof of their age. After collection, the forms will be reviewed by the Returning Officer (RO) for approval. 

Voting from home procedure

  • Those who are eligible for the vote-from-home facility have to fill up Form 12D and inform the ARO about not being able to physically visit the polling booth to vote. The address and contact details of the ARO are available in the respective state election commission websites
  • A Booth Level Officer (BLO) will visit the houses of the absentee voters in the category of senior citizens aged above 85, Persons with Disabilities and COVID-19 suspect or affected persons, as per details provided by the RO, in the Polling Station area and deliver Form 12D to the concerned electors and obtain acknowledgements from them 
  • If an elector is not available, the BLO shall share his/her contact details and revisit to collect it within five days of the notification 
  • The process of casting postal ballots will be completed a day before the rest of the state casts their vote. The time table of the same will be provided to the representatives of political parties as well
  •  A team of four will visit the house of the senior citizen: 2 polling officers, a videographer, and a security officer. The vote will be cast using a ballot paper. Along with that, the voter will fill out a declaration form: Form 13A
  • Form 13 A will be signed by the voter and attested by the polling officer and will include the number of the ballot paper. The ballot paper and Form 13A will be sealed by the voter themselves in two separate envelopes. These two envelopes will be sealed together in a second envelope. The second envelope will be in turn sealed in a third one and given to the polling officer. These envelopes will be collected in a ballot box, which will be with the ARO

Provisions for officers on election duty

The ECI has also made arrangements to enable those who are posted for election duty to exercise their right to vote, said Anjali Bhosale, Deputy Collector, and the nodal officer in-charge of postal ballots for Mumbai South. Such officers have been given two forms along with the order, which asks them to join the election duty: Form 12 and form 12A. 

Form 12A is to be filled out by officers on duty who have been posted in the same constituency where they are registered as voters. On the other hand, Form 12 is to be filled out by those who have been appointed to work at a polling station, which falls outside the constituency where they are registered.

Citizens appointed to carry out this work are undergoing training for the same. During the first session of the training these forms are to be submitted to the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO).

In case form 12 A has been filled by the officer, they will be issued an Election Duty Certificate. They will have to present this certificate on the day of the polls to their presiding officer, who will then allow them to cast their vote at their duty station itself. 

On the other hand, if Form 12 has been filled, polling officers will get a chance to vote during their subsequent training sessions. A facilitation centre will be created where they will be able to cast their vote using a ballot paper. This process will take place before the rest of the state goes to the polls.


Read more: Lok Sabha 2024: Know your MP — Poonam Mahajan, Mumbai North Central


Concerns and criticism

However, there have been some reservations expressed against the provision. Congress leader VD Satheesan wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer, asking that the election officers should ensure that ID proof of the voter be furnished apart from the electoral ID card and that the voter’s Aadhaar card be verified. He also said that voting should be conducted in the presence of booth level agents of respective political parties. 

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