Saturday 31 October 2020

Bihar voters to wear gloves, use toothpicks on election day

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Amidst the spread of coronavirus, the Election Commission has decided to conduct the Bihar election while exercising as much caution as practically possible. The commission has decided to hold the Bihar election, slated for this year, observing social distancing. PPE kits, thermal scanning, an increase in the number of booths, etc will be in place by the time the election arrives, a source said.

There will be more polling booths (1,06,000), with 34,000 of them kept aside as buffer or for replacements. This is 45% more than the polling booths usually put in place during an election.

The ECI has urged the people to wear face masks while attending large election rallies. It has imposed restrictions on large public ceremonies including in ‘places of worship’. It has asked voters to use toothpicks and gloves while casting their votes using electronic voting machines (EVM).

The commission has sought suggestions from national and state-level parties that contest in Bihar as to how public meetings can happen while people are observing social distancing. A press release stated that after receiving the suggestions, “the necessary guidelines for election campaigning by candidates or political parties can be redrawn by conducting elections during the period of the epidemic”.

The deadline for sending suggestions on the following issues is 31 July:

  • Wearing a mask while campaigning or meeting large gatherings
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Restrictions on large public gatherings at a place including religious places
  • Thermal scanning at places of gathering and sanitisation
  • Reducing the number of voters per booth
  • Demarcations outside the booth to maintain social distancing

The commission had earlier limited the number of electors to 1,000 per polling station.

Earlier, nine opposition parties had submitted a memorandum to the commission, demanding a general campaign in addition to virtual campaigning.

The death of MP Baidyanath Prasad Mahato has left the seat 1 Valmiki Nagar PC of Bihar vacant, for which there will be a by-poll in the constituency. The last date for filing of nomination papers for this is 28 August.

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