EC issues COVID-19 guidelines for polls

Our Correspondent
Kohima | October 9

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued broad guidelines for conduct of general elections/bye-elections during COVID-19.

All persons have to wear face masks during every election related activity, while instruction has been issued for assured minimum facilities at each polling station.

These include mandatory sanitization of polling station, preferably, a day before the poll; thermal scanning at the entry point of every polling station location; and thermal checking of voters at entry point of polling station location, polling station, either by polling staff or para medical staff of ASHA workers.

If temperature is above the set norms at first reading, then it will be checked twice and if it remains the same, then the elector shall be provided with token/certificate and will be asked to come for voting at the last hour of poll. At the last hour of poll, such electors shall be facilitated voting, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures.

Help desks will be set up for distribution of token for the voters on first come basis so that they do not wait in the queue.

Further, social distancing through earmarking of circles 6 feet apart is also required, while three queues will be set up for men, women and Persons with Disabilities/senior citizen voters. The services of BLOs, volunteers etc. may be engaged to monitor and regulate social distancing norms strictly.

One shaded waiting areas with chairs etc will be provided, for men and women separately, within the polling station premises. Soap and water shall be provided at the entry/exit point of very polling station. The guidelines also stated that sanitizers should be provided at the entry/exit point of every polling station. Face masks are also to be kept in reserve for those electors who do not have the same. 

Awareness posters on COVID-19 should also be displayed at visible locations.

Sitting arrangement in polling station for the polling personnel and poling agents shall be made as per the norms of social distancing and during the process of voter identification, voters will need to lower the facemask when required.

At any given time, only one voter shall be allowed to stand in front of each polling official maintaining social distance.

Hand gloves shall be provided to the voter for signing on the voter register and pressing button of EVM for voting.

The guideline also stated that 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. Sector magistrates shall coordinate this in their allocated polling stations.

In case of those voters who are residing in the area notified as containment zone, guidelines shall be issued separately.