EC Issues New Guidelines For Polls Amid Pandemic

The Election Commission has approved broad guidelines for the conduct of general elections and bypolls during COVID-19 period under which candidates will have the option to fill the nomination form and affidavit and deposit security amount online and five persons including candidate will be allowed for the door-to-door campaign.

The revised norms come ahead of assembly polls in Bihar which may be held later this year. The norms state that hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter register and pressing the button of EVM for voting.

Voters will be given gloves before they head to the EVM machines. There shall be maximum 1000 electors instead of 1500 electors in a polling station.

The commission has also revised the norms of the number of persons accompanying the candidate and number of vehicles at the time of nomination.

An Election Commission press release said that public meetings and roadshows shall be permissible with suitable instructions subject to containment instructions issued by the Home Ministry and state government.

Face Mask, Sanitizer, Thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process while ensuring social distancing norms.

The release said that the poll panel has created optional facility “to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking the print, before the RO concerned”.

“For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit security amount for contesting the elections online. Keeping containment guidelines in view, the Commission has limited the number of persons including candidate for the door-to-door campaign to five,” it said. Unlike the past when candidates of leading political parties went to file nominations in big processions, the new norms stipulate that only two persons can accompany candidate for submission of nomination.

Every person will be required to wear a face mask during every election-related activity. The guidelines state that at the entry of hall/ room/ premises used for election purposes, thermal scanning of all persons shall be carried out. “Sanitizer, soap and water shall be made available, social distancing shall be maintained as per the extant COVID-19 guidelines of the state government and the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

The guidelines state that as far as practicable, large halls should be identified and utilised to ensure social distancing norms. Also, awareness posters on COVID-19 should be displayed at visible locations.

They state that an adequate number of vehicles should be mobilized for movement of polling personnel, security personnel to ensure compliance of COVID-19 guidelines. Also based on these broad guidelines, a detailed COVID-19 related comprehensive plan will be prepared at the state level, taking local conditions into account.

In case of general elections, the three-layer plan will be prepared in consultation with the concerned nodal health officers – assembly, district and state levels.

In the case of bye-elections, the plans will be prepared at the district and constituency levels in consultation with respective nodal health officers.

In case more than one district is involved, such plans will be prepared by the returning officer of the parliamentary constituency in coordination with the DEOs, wherever required. (ANI)

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