Bihar DMs told to strictly follow EC polls' guidelines

Bihar DMs told to strictly follow EC guidelines on holding polls during pandemic

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The Election Commission on Monday held a video conference meeting with District Magistrates in Bihar asking them to strictly follow the guidelines issued by the poll panel for holding elections during coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual meeting was chaired by Bihars Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) H R Srinivasa, who gave a slew of directions to District Election Officer-cum-District Magistrates about the guidelines issued by the EC on August 21, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Baijunath Singh told PTI.

Bihar may become the first state to go for Assembly elections amid the pandemic. The polls in the state are due in October-November. As part of the EC guidelines, voters will be provided gloves while using EVMs and Covid-19 patients in quarantine will be allowed to vote at the last hour of the polling day.

It said that a separate set of guidelines would be issued for voters who are residing in areas notified as "containment zone".

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The poll panel also extended the option of postal ballot for electors who are marked as persons with disabilities and those above 80 years.

Electors who are Covid-19 positive or are suspected of having the infection and in quarantine at home or at an institution can also exercise the postal ballot option. It directed to install thermal scanners at the entry point of every polling station.

Polling or paramedical staff will be tasked to conduct thermal screening of voters at the entry point of a polling station. If the temperature of a voter is above the set norms of Health Ministry at first reading, then it will be checked twice and if it remains, then the elector shall be provided with a token or a certificate and will be asked to come for voting at the last hour of poll.

Face masks in reserve would be kept for those electors who are not carrying one.

During the process of identification of voter, the voters will require to lower the face mask for identification, according to the document. During the virtual interaction, the DMs were asked to prepare work plan at the district level and also that at assembly constituency, Singh said.

Counting halls and strong rooms should be spacious so that counting process can be completed by following the social distancing norms, he said. Singh said DMs were also intructed to ensure that names of all eligible migrant labourers are registered in the electoral rolls.

He said since the number of polling stations has increased significantly this time to over 1,06,000 from 72,727, the Commission will be requiring more polling staff and hence women staff may be used for election duty as per EC guidelines, the Dy CEO said.

The DMs have also been asked to provide the Commission information regarding grounds/fields and their capacity to accommodate people which could be used for public meetings, he said. Election Officers of all 243 assembly constituencies, Deputy Election Officers and all the senior officers of the Election department participated in the meeting.