New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid rising COVID-19 cases and threat of spread of more transmissible Omicron strain of the virus, Election Commission of India on Saturday announced the schedule for assembly polls in five states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The Election Commission emphasised on ‘COVID free elections’ while ensuring maximum voter participation with minimal hassles.

Election Commission advised political parties and candidates to conduct their campaigns virtually ‘as much as possible’ instead of physical mode in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases. All election officials and employees will be vaccinated with 'precautionary dose', as they will be considered the frontline workers.

Elections 2022: At home voting for senior citizens, COVID positive patients

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said that a team of polling officials will conduct at-home voting for senior citizens above the age of 80, persons with disabilities and COVID positive citizens. The at-home voting will be conducted via postal ballot. To make transparency of voting process a defining feature of the new mode of voting during the pandemic, the whole process will be videographed. The videography, however, CEC Sushil Chandra added, will be conducted from a safe distance to maintain the secrecy of the voting process.

Elections 2022: No roadshows, physical rallies till January 15, 2022

Election Commission ruled that no roadshow, bike rally, padyatra or procession will be allowed till January 15. No physical rally will be allowed till January 15, it added.

Elections 2022: Online nominations for candidates

For the first time, candidates will be optionally able to file online nominations on ECI’s portal. Furthermore, only five people are allowed to take part in door-to-door campaigns. The air time on Doordarshan for political parties have been doubled by the ECI given the mostly virtual nature of election campaign this time.

Elections 2022: CEC claims response in 100-minutes against Code of Conduct violations

The Model Code of Conduct – a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions and general conduct – has been put into place with immediate effect in the states going to the polls.

Election Commission said that its cVigil mobile application can be used by voters to report any incident of violation of the Model Code of Conduct, distribution of money and freebies. “Within 100 minutes of complaint, ECI officials will reach the place of offence,” Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said.

The election expenditure per candidate has been increased to Rs. 28 lakh for Manipur and Goa, and Rs. 40 lakh for the remaining three States.

Elections 2022: 1620 polling booths to be exclusively managed by women officials

At least one polling booth in each assembly constituency across the five states going to polls will be exclusively managed by women personnel to encourage women voters, Election Commission said.

"Our officers have identified much more than that (one booth per assembly seat). There are 690 Assembly seats but we are setting up 1620 such polling booths,” CEC Sushil Chandra said.

Posted By: Mukul Sharma