Strict curbs on poll rallies in EC’s new guidelines for elections

Voters to get gloves to press EVM button, sign register; face temperature checks

New Delhi: With Assembly polls fast approaching in Bihar, the Election Commission on Friday issued guidelines for conducting elections during the Covid-19 pandemic era. It has put stringent conditions on political rallies in terms of venue and crowding and limited the number of persons for door-to-door campaigning to five, including candidates and their securitymen.

The EC said thermal scanners, gloves, sanitisers, face shields and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process, ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves will be provided to all electors for signing on voter registers and pressing the EVM button for voting. The maximum number of voters inside the polling centre premises at any point shall be 1,000 instead of 1,500 electors.

Voters will be scanned at every stage and if their temperature is over the norms set by the health ministry, they will be provided with a token and will be asked to come for voting in the last hour of the poll.

"In the last hour of the poll, all such electors shall be facilitated voting, strictly following Covid-19 related preventive measures," EC said.

The option of the postal ballot facility has been extended to persons with
disabilities, are above the age of 80, employed in essential services and those who are Covid-19 positive/suspect and are in quarantine (home or institutional).

The commission also revised the norms on the number of persons and vehicles
accompanying the candidate at the time of filing nominations, saying only two
persons and two vehicles can accompany the candidate.

The EC has said candidates have the option to fill the nomination form
and the affidavit online, a printout of which can be submitted before the returning officer. For the first time, candidates will have the option to deposit their security amount for contesting the elections online.

Keeping the containment guidelines in view, the commission has said that public
meetings and roadshows shall be permissible with suitable instructions subject to the containment instructions issued by the home ministry and the state governments.

People will be required to wear face masks during every election-related activity and as far as practicable large halls should be utilised to ensure social distancing norms.

For roadshows, the convoy of vehicles must be broken after every five vehicles
instead of 10 (excluding security vehicles).

"The chief electoral officers of states/UTs shall make comprehensive
plans regarding arrangements and preventive measures following these guidelines taking local conditions into account. These plans will be prepared in consultation with the nodal officer for Covid-19 in their respective states/UTs," the Election Commission said.

Next Story