10 points: How elections will be conducted amid pandemic

Gloves and masks have been mandated, as per a new set of guidelines issued by EC for holding polls

Vote
Bihar's Chief Electoral Officer Srinivas said in Hilsa assembly seat where the margin of victory/defeat (RJD’s Atri Muni lost in Hilsa) was just 12 votes, result was declared following due procedure as mentioned by the EC. | Representative Photo: iStock

The Election Commission of India issued guidelines on Friday (August 21) for conducting elections amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines ensure proper safety measures in view of the virus situation and mandate wearing of masks during every election-related activity.

Here are 10 important points mentioned in the new set of guidelines:

  • Voters will be provided with gloves for signing the voter register and pressing the EVM button. The gloves will most likely be disposable.
  • COVID-19 patients in quarantine will be allowed to vote at the last hour of the polling day
  • A separate set of guidelines would be issued for voters who are residing in areas notified as “containment zone”.
  • EC has recommended mandatory sanitisation of polling stations, preferably a day before the polls.
  • Thermal scanners would be placed at the entry point of every polling station. Polling or paramedical staff will conduct thermal screening of voters at the entry point of a polling station, said EC.
  • A maximum of 1,000 electors instead of 1,500 electors will be allowed in a polling station.
  • The option of postal ballot facility has been extended to the electors marked as Persons with Disabilities (PwD), those above the age of 80 years, those employed in notified essential services, and those are COVID- 19 positive/suspect and in quarantine (home/
    institutional).
  • A group of five people, including candidates but excluding security personnel, is allowed to take part in door-to-door campaigning.
  • For roadshows, convoys of vehicles should be broken after every five vehicles instead of 10. This excludes security vehicles.
  • Public gatherings and rallies can be held subject to adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

Public gatherings: The district election officer should identify in advance dedicated grounds for public gatherings with clearly marked entry and exit points. In all such identified grounds, the district election officer should put markers in advance to ensure social distancing norms are followed by the attendees.

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The district election officer and district superintendent of police should ensure that the number of attendees does not exceed the limit prescribed by the State Disaster Management Authority for public gatherings, the commission said.

Bihar will be the first state where assembly elections will be held amid the pandemic. The polls are likely to be held sometime in October-November.

Related news: Bihar NDA partners in a pickle as parties urge EC to defer Assembly polls

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