Preparing for the election season ahead of the Bihar polls, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has released detailed guidelines for polls amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Limiting 1,000 voters per voting booth, the ECI has defined specific guidelines for polling stations, postal ballots, election campaigns and the counting of votes. Bihar will go to the polls in October-November this year, as the pandemic rages on.
CIS Guidelines for Voting Booths
Guidelines for polling stations:
- Mandatory disinfection of the polling station, thermal scanner at the point of entry and verification of voters at the point of entry by polling staff or paramedics or the Asha worker. If the temperature is above the set standards, the voter will receive a token / certificate and will be invited to come forward to vote at the last hour of the poll where the vote will be facilitated following the COVID-19 measures.
- Marker to demonstrate social distancing for the queue – assignment circle for 15-20 people 2 meters (6 feet) away for voters.
- Soap, water and disinfectant should be provided at the entry / exit point of each polling station. Face masks must be kept on reserves for voters not wearing them
- COVID-19 awareness posters must be displayed in visible places
- Arrangement of seats in the polling station for election officials according to social distancing. If the polling officer or counting agent has a temperature, it should be read.
- At any time, only one voter will be allowed to stand in front of each poll official and the voter may need to lower their mask to identify themselves.
- Gloves must be provided to the voter so that he can register on the voters list and press the EVM button to vote.
- Quarantined COVID-19 patients will be allowed to vote at the last hour of polling day, under the supervision of health authorities. Guidelines for voters in containment zones will be published separately.
The option of postal voting has now been extended to voters with disabilities, over the age of 80, employed in essential services, voters positive / suspected of COVID-19 and in quarantine (home / institutional)
Political campaign guidelines:
- Door to door campaign: Only 5 people, including the candidate, excluding security personnel, if any, are allowed to door-to-door.
- Street show: The convoy of vehicles must be broken every 5 vehicles instead of 10 vehicles. The
- the interval between two trains of convoys of vehicles should be half an hour instead of a gap of 100 meters.
- Election meetings: Public gatherings / gatherings may be organized subject to compliance with applicable COVID-19 guidelines. The district election official should identify dedicated grounds, place markers to ensure social distancing guidelines, ensure that the number of participants does not exceed the limit prescribed by the state, while political parties will ensure that that all the requirements related to COVID-19 like face masks, disinfectants, thermal products scanning, etc. are performed during each of these activities.
- Failure to follow instructions: Anyone violating the COVID-19 measures instructions will be liable to prosecution in accordance with the provisions of Articles 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, in addition to legal action under Article 188 of the IPC, and other applicable legal provisions, as specified in order n ° 40-3 / 2020-DM-I (A) of July 29, 2020 of the Ministry of the Interior
Instructions for counting votes:
- The vault must be disinfected after the end of polling day
- No more than 7 counting tables should be allowed in a counting room, therefore counting from each constituency can be considered in 3-4 counting rooms.
- UC / VVPAT carrying cases should be disinfected
- Control units result display can be displayed on a large screen to prevent blackmail by polling officers
- Counting centers must be disinfected before, during and after counting
- For the counting of postal ballots, an additional number of AROs may be required. If necessary, postal ballots can also be counted in a separate room under the supervision of the returning officer / assistant returning officer