EC issues new guidelines for polls during pandemic: Last hour for COVID-19 patients, gloves for all voters

KOLKATA 21 AUG: Keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly Polls, the Election Commission on Friday issued fresh guidelines for the conduct of elections during the pandemic year. After considering several suggestions that were submitted by various political parties and chief electoral officers of state and union territories, the poll director said that only five members would be allowed to go on a door-to-door campaign. It also restricted the candidate campaign for roadshows to just five vehicles, among several other plans. 

Bihar is the first state that goes to elections amid the pandemic. The polls are likely to be held sometime in October-November. While West Bengal heads to its assembly elections next year (dates to be decided).

Amid Coronavirus fears: New Guidelines for election campaign

  • No more than two people can accompany a candidate at the time of nomination.
  • The contestant has the option to deposit the security amount for contesting the elections online. 
  • It has also created an optional facility to fill the nomination form and affidavit online.
  • All voters will be asked to wear face masks, which they will be asked to remove briefly for identification at the time of voting.
  • Quarantined patients will be allowed to vote at the last hour of poll under supervision of health officials, strictly following preventive measures.
  • Hand gloves will be provided to voters at the time of signing the register and pressing the EVM button.
  • Maximum 1,000 voters can vote at a polling station. Please note, earlier the maximum number was 1,500.
  • If a voter, shows any symptoms of the virus on the day of voting, the person will be provided with a token and asked to come back only at the last hour of polling.
  • During public meetings and roadshows, face masks, sanitisers, thermal scanners, gloves, shields and PPE kits shall be made mandatory for all.

These guidelines need to be now implemented with the full cooperation from the district authorities. 

However, the new guidelines do not talk about virtual rallies and digital campaigns. Several by-polls were recently postponed mainly due to the novel coronavirus and heavy rains. A fresh schedule remains to be announced as of now.

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