The Election Commission of India on Friday issues guidelines for the conduct of general elections and by-elections during the coronavirus pandemic. Bihar will be the first state to adopt these guidelines in the upcoming Assembly Election slated for October or November this year.
According to the guidelines issued, a candidate can file his nomination through online modes, while the commission has made it mandatory for people to wear a face mask during any election-related activities. For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit the security amount for contesting the elections online.
“The option of postal ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are marked as ‘persons with disabilities’, people above the age of 80 years, people employed in notified essential services and who are COVID-19 positive/possibly infected”, Election Commission of India said.
After considering suggestions made by political parties and chief electoral officers of states and union territories, the poll watchdog said that only a group of five people can campaign door-to-door.
The general guidelines are as follows:
- Every person shall wear a face mask during every election-related activity.
- At the entry of hall/ room/ premises used for election purposes: (a) thermal scanning of all persons shall be carried out (b) 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.
- An adequate number of vehicles shall be mobilized for movement of polling personnel, security personnel to ensure compliance of COVID-19 guidelines.
- As far as practicable, large halls should be identified and utilized to ensure social distancing norms.
Key guidelines at the polling stations:
- Thermal scanner at the entry point of every polling station location.
- Mandatory sanitization of the polling station, preferably, a day before the poll.
- Thermal checking of voters at the entry point of polling station location/polling station, either by polling staff or para-medical staff or Asha worker.
- If the temperature is above the set norms of MoHFW at first reading, then it will be checked twice and if it remains, then the elector shall be provided with a token/certificate and will be asked to come for voting at the last hour of the poll. At the last hour of the poll, such electors shall be facilitated voting, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures.
- Soap and Water shall be provided at the entry/exit point of every polling station.
- Wherever possible, Booth App shall be used at the polling station.
- Sanitizer should be provided at the entry/exit point of every polling station as well as kept inside the booth at appropriate locations with clear direction for the use by voters.
- Face Masks in reserves for those electors who are not carrying the mask will be kept.
- During the process of identification of voters, the voters will require to lower the facemask for identification, when required.
COVID-19 patients who are quarantined will be allowed to cast their vote at the last hour of the poll day at their respective Polling Stations, under the supervision of health authorities, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures. Sector Magistrates shall coordinate this in their allocated polling stations.