08989f435cbef1f335b0e9e39abe19b9New Delhi: Service voters including armed forces personnel from five assembly constituencies in Punjab and in all the 40 constituencies in Goa will get the option of casting their vote through e-ballot this time.

Polling for 117 seats in Punjab and 40 seats in Goa is scheduled for Saturday.

The Election Commission (EC) had last year amended rules to allow service voters to receive their ballot papers through electronic mode (Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System or ETPBS).

However, the voters, having marked their choice, would have to return the ballot physically to their respective returning officers through the normal postal service, the EC said.

The EC has not gone with the two-way electronic transfer of ballot papers for the time being.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi had announced the decision to extend the facility of e-ballot to defence and central para-military forces personnel while announcing the dates for the assembly polls in January.

The system was first used on a trial basis in the by-election for the Nellithope assembly seat in Puducherry last year.

Although a large number of people from Punjab join the armed forces, the ETPBS will be available to the voters from Ludhiana East, Ludhiana North, Amritsar North, Atmanagar and Jalandhar West assembly constituencies.

However, service voters from entire Goa can avail the facility.

The reason for including only five seats from Punjab, EC sources said, is that while Goa is a “small sector”, Punjab is a big state and it requires “a lot of preparations including the training of the electoral staff at both ends” before starting a new facility like ETPBS.

The CEC had clarified that voting through ETPBS “will be implemented in a few classified assembly constituencies on a pilot and trial basis” in the five poll-going states.

The assembly constituencies where ETPBS will be implemented “shall be selected on certain criteria based on logistics, connectivity and operational requirements”, the EC had said.

The new system will considerably cut short the time in the process of casting of votes by service voters.