Seven-phase polling in five States announced, results on March 11
The Election Commission has announced the election schedule for five States which are scheduled to go to the polls from next month. These are Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab. With this announcement, the code of conduct is now in place.
The first phase of polling will begin from February 4 and the last on March 8 while results would be announced on March 11. In the first phase, Goa and Punjab will poll for 40 and 11 Assembly seats respectively. Entire Uttarakhand will go to polls In the second phase on February 15 for 70 seats while polling in Manipur is scheduled in two phases on March 4 and March 8 for electing 60 MLAs. It is Uttar Pradesh which will elect its 403 MLAs in seven phases beginning February 11 to March 8, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters.
In order to maintain the secrecy of vote at the time of poll and uniformity in use of voting compartments, the Commission has issued revised instructions to increase the height of the Voting Compartments to 30 inches. It has been, further, directed that the Voting Compartment should be placed on a table whose height shall be 30 inches and only corrugated plastic sheet (flex-board) of steel-grey colour, which is completely opaque and reusable, shall be used for making the voting compartment, he said.
The Commission has directed that in areas where women folk feel inhibited in mingling with male members because of some local custom or social practice, a separate polling station for women can be provided after getting approval of the Election Commission. Further, in big villages, if two polling stations are to be provided for the village, one may be provided for male electors and the other for female electors. In polling stations provided exclusively for women electors, polling personnel also should normally be women. When separate polling stations are provided for men and women of a particular polling area, these should as far as possible be located in the same building for general convenience.
As part of its firm commitment towards gender equality and greater constructive participation of women in the electoral process, the Commission has also directed that, to the extent possible, â€˜All Women Managed Polling Stationsâ€™ shall be set up in each Assembly Constituency where the entire polling staff, including the police and security personnel, shall be women.
The Commission has issued instructions to ensure that as far as practicable, all polling stations are located at ground floor and sturdy ramps are provided for the convenience of differently-abled electors with wheel-chairs. Further, in order to provide targeted and needbased facilitation to differently-abled voters, the Commission has directed that all Persons With Disabilities (PwDs) in an Assembly Constituency are identified and tagged to their respective Polling Stations and necessary disability-specific arrangements made for their smooth and convenient voting experience on the poll day. Also, it has been directed that differently-abled electors are given priority for entering polling booths, provision made for designated parking spaces close to the entrance of polling premise and special care to be provided to electors with speech and hearing impairment. Special focus has been laid for the sensitization of the polling personnel regarding the unique needs of the differently-abled, the Chief Election Commissioner said.
The Commission has instructed that, as far as practicable, separate auxiliary polling stations will be set up inside the Blind Schools for ease and facilitation of voting by the inmates. Also, the staff of such schools itself shall be deployed as polling personnel for this polling station.
In these elections, a Voter Guide Brochure (in local languages) shall be handed over to every household ahead of the elections, giving information about the date and time of polls, contact details of the BLOs, important websites, helpline numbers, documents required for identification at the polling station besides other important information including the Doâ€™s and Dontâ€™s for voters at the polling station. This Voter Guide Brochure will be distributed along with the Photo Voter Slips by the BLOs.
The Commission has directed that if a leprosy sanatorium is located within the constituency, then, if possible, a polling station may be set up at the sanatorium for the benefit of the inmates and sanatorium staff may be appointed as Presiding and Polling officers of the polling station. On the Balloting Unit, below the name of the last candidate, there will now be a button for NOTA option so that electors who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their option by pressing the button against NOTA. The Commission has provided a new symbol for the NOTA option, which was designed by National Institute of Design (NID). This new symbol will facilitate the voters in casting of their votes, Mr Zaidi said.
In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, the Commission has prescribed an additional measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate also on the ballot to be displayed on the EVM (Ballot Unit) and on Postal Ballot Papers. This will also take care to avoid likely confusion when candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency. For this purpose, the candidates are required to submit to the Returning Officer, their recent Stamp Size photograph as per the specifications laid down by the Commission. Many of the poll-bound states will be using the photograph of the candidates on the ballot papers for the first time. Instructions have also been issued to ensure necessary publicity of this instruction
As per the revised ceilings, the maximum limit of election expenses for the Assembly Constituencies is Rs. 28 lakh per candidate for the states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and Rs. 20 lakh per candidate in Manipur and Goa.”