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Guidelines for conduct of elections during COVID-19. Full List

The dates for Bihar Assembly Elections will be announced today by the Election Commission. The COVID-19 pandemic has not left the country yet and Bihar elections would be the first big event to be held amid the pandemic.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: September 25, 2020 14:11 IST
Bihar elections
Image Source : PTI

Bihar elections: Coronavirus guidelines to be followed

The dates for Bihar Assembly Elections will be announced today by the Election Commission. After the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in India, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) have been issuing guidelines from time to time. In their latest circular dated 29th July 2020, Ministry of Home Affairs has issued comprehensive guidelines/directives to be followed countrywide. Similarly, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has also issued SOP on disinfection, sanitization, and prevention for containing COVID-19. The Commission has considered the views/suggestions received from various political parties and Chief Electoral Officers of States/UTs on the election campaign and public meetings.

Keeping in view the above, following broad guidelines have been framed with respect to key activities of the conduct of elections, considering the upcoming general elections and bye-elections in various states/UTs during the period of COVID-19

General guidelines to be followed during entire election process

For Voters 

  • Every person shall wear a face mask during every election-related activity
  • At the entry of hall/ room/ premises used for election purposes - Thermal Scanning of all persons shall be carried out; 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 Ministry of Home Affairs
  • As far as practicable, large halls should be identified and utilized to ensure social distancing norms
  • Adequate number of vehicles shall be mobilized for movement of polling personnel, security personnel to ensure compliance of COVID-19 guidelines

EVMs/VVPATs

  • First and second randomization and preparation of EVMs/VVPATs shall be done in large halls
  • Sanitizers shall be provided in sufficient quantity for use during the process
  • Gloves shall be made available to each official handling EVM/VVPAT

Nomination Process

  • The nomination form will also be available online on the website of CEO/ DEO. An intending candidate may fill in it online and its print may be taken for submitting before the Returning Officer as specified in Form-1 (Rule-3 of Conduct of Election Rules 1961)
  • Affidavit may also be filled in online on the website of CEO/DEO and its print can be taken and after notarization, it may be submitted along with the nomination form before the Returning Officer
  • The candidate may deposit security money through online mode at the designated platform. However, a candidate will continue to have the option of depositing in cash in the treasury
  • The candidate may have the option to seek his/her elector certification for the purpose of nomination online

Polling Station Arrangements

  • Mandatory sanitization of the polling station, preferably, a day before the poll
  • The thermal scanner at the entry point of every polling station location
  • Thermal checking of voters at the entry point of polling station location/polling station, either by polling staff or paramedical 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 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
  • Help desk for distribution of token to the voters of first come first basis so that they do not wait in the queue
  • Marker to demonstrate social distancing for queue
  • Earmarking circle for 15-20 persons of 2 yards (6 feet) distance for voters standing in the queue depending on the availability of space. There shall be three queues each, for male, female, and PwD/ senior citizen voters
  • The services of BLOs, volunteers etc may be engaged to monitor and regulate social distancing norms strictly
  • One shaded waiting areas with chairs, dari etc. will be provided, for male and female separately, within the polling station premises so that voters can participate in voting without safety concerns
  • Wherever possible, booth app shall be used at the polling station
  • Soap and water shall be provided at the entry/exit point of every polling station
  • Sanitizer should be provided at the entry/exit point of every polling station
  • Face masks in reserves for those electors who are not carrying the mask will be kept
  • Awareness posters on COVID-19 should be displayed at visible locations
  • Sitting arrangement in a polling station for the polling personnel and polling agents shall be made as per the norms of social distancing
  • If polling agent or counting agent is having a temperature above the prescribed limit, then their reliever shall be allowed by Presiding Officer, who will keep a record accordingly
  • During the process of identification of voter, the voters will require to lower the facemask for identification, when required
  • At any given time, only one voter shall be allowed to stand in front of each polling official maintaining social distance
  • Hand gloves shall be provided to the voter, for signing on the voter register and pressing the button of EVM for voting
  • Sanitizers shall be kept inside the booth at appropriate locations with clear direction for the use by voters
  • 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
  • In case of those voters who are residing in the area notified as containment zone, guidelines shall be issued separately

Postal Ballot

The option of postal ballot facility has been extended to the electors of following categories:

  • Electors, who are marked as persons with disabilities (PwD)
  • Electors above the age of 80 years
  • Electors employed in notified essential services
  • Electors who are COVID- 19 positive/suspect and in quarantine (home/institutional)

Campaign By Political Parties/Contesting Candidates

Door-to-door campaign - subject to any other restriction(s) including extant COVID-19 guidelines, a group of 5 (five) persons including candidates, excluding security personnel, if any, is allowed to do door to door campaign

Roadshows - The convoy of vehicles should be broken after every 5 (five) vehicles instead of 10 vehicles (excluding the security vehicles, if any). The
the interval between two sets of a convoy of vehicles should be half an hour instead of a gap of 100 meters
Election meetings - Public gatherings/ rallies may be conducted subject to adherence to extant COVID-19 guidelines. District Election Officer should take the following steps for this purpose:

  • District Election Officer should, in advance, identify dedicated grounds for public gathering with clearly marked entry/exit points
  • In all such identified grounds, the District Election Officer should, in advance, put markers to ensure social distancing norms by the attendees
  • Nodal District Health Officer should be involved in the process to ensure that all COVID-19 related guidelines are adhered to by all concerned in the district
  • District Election Officer and District Superintendent of Police should ensure that the number of attendees does not exceed the limit prescribed by the State Disaster Management Authority for public gatherings
  • DEO should depute Sector Health Regulators to oversee that COVID-19 instructions/guidelines are being followed during these meetings
  • The political parties and candidates concerned should ensure that all COVID-19 related requirement like face masks, sanitizers, thermal scanning etc. are fulfilled during each of these activities
  • Non-compliance of instructions – Anybody violating instructions on COVID-19 measures will be liable to proceed against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Section 188 of the IPC, and other legal provisions 
  • Allocation of public spaces must be done using Suvidha app in the manner already prescribed by the commission

Counting Of Votes

  • Not more than 7 counting tables should be allowed in a counting hall. Hence, counting of votes of a constituency may be considered at 3-4 halls by appointing additional Assistant Returning Officers
  • Carrying cases of CUs/VVPATs should be sanitized before placing over counting tables
  • De-sealing of CUs/VVPATs and displaying Result on CU should be done by one official on each table
  • Display of result from the Control Units may be displayed on a large screen to avoid accommodation of a large number of counting agents
  • The counting centres shall be disinfected before, during and after the counting
  • For counting of postal ballots, an additional number of AROs may be required. If required, postal ballots may also be counted in a separate hall under the
  • supervision of the Returning Officer/Assistant Returning officer

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