Election on May 5th, EC gets set

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The state assembly elections will be held on May 5th, Sunday, between 8 am and 5 pm. Votes will be counted on May 8th, and the entire process will be completed by May 11th. Election Commission of India (ECI) announced this yesterday in a press release. By April 17th, candidates have to file nominations.

Here are some main pointers from the press release:

There are over four crore voters and 50,446 polling stations in the state. ECI claims that 98.37% of those who have EPIC (Electoral Photo Identity Cards), have their photographs in the cards. For voting, it is mandatory for photos in the EPIC cards to match with those in the photo electoral rolls available with polling officers. ECI says that 98.69% of names in the photo electoral rolls have photographs.

Those who do not have EPICs can collect them from Electoral Registration Officers. If a voter is named in the electoral roll, but does not have EPIC, she can still be identified using other documents if needed.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have already been checked once to ensure proper functioning, in the presence of political parties’ representatives. EVMs will be randomly allocated to different voting stations; this is done in two stages. In the first stage, the District Election Officer (DEO) will randomise the EVMs kept in the district storage centre, before parties’ representatives. In the second stage, these are again randomised in the presence of General Observers and candidates, to decide on the particular polling stations where these will be finally used.

Important Dates:

Issue of notification: April 10th (Wednesday)
Last date of making nominations: April 17th (Wednesday)
Scrutiny of nominations: April 18th (Thursday)
Last date for withdrawal of candidatures: April 20th (Saturday)
Date of poll: May 5th (Sunday)
Hours of poll: 8 am to 5 pm
Counting of votes: May 8th (Wednesday)
Date before which election shall be completed: May 11th (Saturday)

General Observers are those deployed to ensure fair elections; their contact numbers will be published in newspapers for public to contact in case of grievances. Working under General Observers, are Micro-observers who monitor polling in critical polling stations. Micro-observers – selected from among central government/PSU employees – will ensure that all procedures are followed, and will report violations to General Observers. Awareness Observers in each district ensure that voters are informed and motivated.

A large police force may be deployed. Central Police Forces (CPF) and State Armed Police (SAP) from other states will guard polling stations, materials and counting centres. Police Observers will check the law and order situation. Expenditure Observers will monitor the election expenditure of candidates. Candidates have to use a separate bank account for their election expenditures. Flying squads, video surveillance teams, and Income Tax department will also monitor expenses.

To avoid ‘paid news’ about candidates in media, there will be Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMCs) at district, state and national levels. Instructions on paid news and other aspects is available on ECI website (www.eci.nic.in).

Polling officers will be selected through a three-stage randomisation process, using a random selection software. The final list of officers for each station will be selected just before they leave for election duty. Police constables and Home Guards for the stations will also be picked randomly.

To avoid malpractice, election officers and police officers of Inspector rank and above, who have been working in the same district for the last three years, will be transferred. Similarly, police sub-inspectors who have been serving in the same constituency or in their home constituency for the last three years will be transferred. Officers who were charged with any lapses in the previous elections will not be assigned election work this time.

DEOs will prepare an election plan for the district, consulting with the police and other officers. These plans should be vetted by observers. DEOs will also arrange videographing of critical events like filing and scrutiny of nominations, checking and storing of EVMs, campaign meetings, polling in vulnerable stations, vote counting etc. CDs of recordings will be given to anyone on payment.

All enrolled voters will be given voter slip along with photo, which will have details of their polling stations and their voter roll serial numbers.

In case of complaints, public can call the toll free helpline 1950. They will be informed of action taken, by SMS and calls. Complaints can be filed online too; the state CEO (Chief Electoral Officer) is yet to announce the name of this website. The website will also have details of action taken on complaints.

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