The Election Commission of India (ECI) today issued guidelines for the conduct of general elections and by-elections in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said that the option of postal ballot facility would be extended to certain classes of citizens.
“The option of postal ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are marked as ‘persons with disabilities’, people above the age of 80 years, people employed in notified essential services and who are COVID-19 positive/possibly infected,” ECI said in a press note.
In other guidelines for the conduct of elections, ECI said: “Candidates can file nomination online. People should wear face masks during election-related activities. Thermal scanning of all persons shall be carried out. Sanitiser, soap and water shall be made available at the entry of hall, room, premises used for election purposes. Social distancing shall be maintained as per the extant COVID-19 guidelines of the state government and Ministry of Home Affairs.”
The ECI said further that the nomination procedure by the prospective candidates could be carried out through the online medium.
“The nomination form will be made available online on the website of CEO/DEO. An intending candidate may fill in it online and its print may be taken for submitting before the Returning officer. The affidavit and security money may also be filled in online on the website of CEO/DEO,” the ECI said.
The ECI further said that the campaign by the political parties/contesting candidates will also be subject to the Covid-19 guidelines.
“A group of 5 persons including candidates and excluding security personnel will be allowed to do door to door campaigning. For roadshows, the convoy of vehicles should be broken after every 5 vehicles instead of 10 vehicles. The interval between two sets of convoys of vehicles should be half an hour instead of a gap of 100 metres,” it said.
“Election meeting will also be subject to adherence to extant COVID-19 guidelines. The DEO should, in advance, identify dedicated grounds for public gathering with clearly marked Entry/Exit points. Social distancing norms should be ensured to be followed by the DEO. The number of attendees should not exceed the limit prescribed by the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) for public gatherings,” the ECI added.