In view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has decided to allow maximum 1,000 electors in a Polling Station instead of earlier stipulation of 1,500 electors. Accordingly, there is a major change in the number of Polling Stations in the poll-bound states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
In Assam, the number of Polling Stations for the upcoming Assembly Elections is 33,530 and there is an increase of 34.71 per cent over the number of Polling Stations in the last elections in 2016. Similarly, the number of Polling Stations in Tamil Nadu is 88,936 and there is an increase of 34.73 per cent as compared to that of 2016 elections. In case of West Bengal, the number of Polling Stations this time is 1,01,916 indicating a rise of 31.65 per cent. In all, there are 40,771 Polling Stations during the upcoming elections in Kerala which indicates augmentation of 89.65 per cent over the number of Polling Stations in the last elections. In the Union Territory of Puducherry, the present number of Polling Stations is 1,559 and it is more than 67.63 per cent as compared to the number of Polling Stations in 2016.
Option of Postal Ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are COVID- 19 positive or suspect as certified by competent authority and are in home or institutional quarantine along with those marked as Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and above the age of 80 years.
The Election Commission has issued detailed instructions to the concerned Chief Electoral Officers to ensure that every Polling Station is equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) like drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, ramp of appropriate gradient for the Persons with Disabilities. The special facilities will include mandatory sanitization of Polling Station, thermal checking of voters at entry point either by polling staff or paramedical staff or an Asha worker. If temperature is above the set norms of the Health Ministry at first reading, then it will be checked twice and if it remains, then the elector shall be provided with a token and will be asked to come for voting at the last hour of poll. At the last hour of poll, such electors will be facilitated for voting, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures.
Earmarking circles for maintaining social distance for voters standing in the queue will be there and the services of Booth Level Officers and volunteers will be engaged to monitor and regulate social distancing norms strictly.
Face Masks will be kept in reserves for those electors who are not carrying the mask. Hand gloves will be provided to the voter, for signing on the voter register and pressing the button of Electronic Voting Machine for voting.
In view of the pandemic, the Commission has decided to extend the poll timing by one hour in all Assembly Constituencies except in the areas affected by Left-Wing Extremism.
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. Proper mechanism of collection and disposal of waste or used gloves will be put in place at each Polling Station.
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