What are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission to conduct elections during COVID-19 pandemic?
As we know that COVID-19 cases are increasing and for upcoming general elections or bye-elections, the Election Commission of India has issued guidelines. Some of the guidelines for holding elections during COVID-19 pandemic are door-to-door campaigns with only five people and gloves for voters before they press the button at electronic voting machines, etc.
The guidelines laid down strict compliance norms that to be followed by Candidates and officials conducting the Elections. Those who violate or found violating the instructions on COVID-19 measures even during the campaign process will be liable to be proceeded against, as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Guidelines issued by the Election Commission during COVID-19 pandemic to conduct elections
Highlights of the guidelines are as follows:
- During election-related activities, every person shall wear a face mask.
- At the entry of hall/room/premises that are used for election purposes, thermal screening to be carried out. Sanitizer, soap, and water shall also be available.
- It is necessary to maintain social distancing as per the COVID-19 guidelines of the state government and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- To ensure social distancing norms, large halls should be identified and utilised.
- For the movement of polling personnel, an adequate number of vehicles shall be mobilised, security personnel to ensure compliance of COVID-19 guidelines.
- Through online mode for the first time, the candidates will be allowed to deposit the security money for contesting elections at the designated platform.
- In a decentralized manner in large halls, the training of elections officials shall be organised. Also, online modules of training will be used as far as possible.
- All the necessary forms will be made available on the website of CEO and DEO for the candidates including the nomination form and affidavit.
- Only two people and two vehicles will be allowed to accompany a candidate while filing the nomination papers.
- To caste vote, all the voters will be given gloves to sign voter register and press the EVM button to cast vote.
- Those running temperatures and even COVID-19 positive patients shall be facilitated to vote in the last hour of the poll.
- Only 1000 voters are allowed in the polling station at a given point in time instead of the current norm of 1500 voters.
- A maximum of 5 people including candidates is going to be allowed for door to door campaign.
- In roadshows, not more than 5 vehicles to be allowed. Public rallies to be held in grounds pre-identified by district election officer.
- For the state, district, and assembly constituency, nodal officer to be designated to oversee enforcement of COVID-19 safety measures.
- Returning Officer will have to maintain a reserve pool of polling, counting, and other staff to replace election staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
- Only two people and two vehicles can accompany a candidate to the election office to file papers.
- The chamber of Returning Officer should have sufficient space to perform the functions of nomination, scrutiny, and symbol allocation following social distancing norms.
- A detailed comprehensive plan COVID-19 related will also be prepared at the state level by taking local conditions into account.
So these were the highlights of the guidelines issued by the Election Commission for the upcoming General Elections and bye-elections in several States and Union Territories amid COVID-19 pandemic.