Bihar Polls Amid Covid-19: Election Commission To Take Decision After State Visit
An election official inks the finger of a voter at a polling station. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Bihar Polls Amid Covid-19: Election Commission To Take Decision After State Visit

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The Election Commission would take a decision in the next few days to visit Bihar where elections are likely to be held later this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Monday.

Addressing an international webinar on "issues, challenges and protocols for conducting elections during Covid-19: sharing country experiences", Arora said the Commission would take a decision within the "next two to three days" on visiting Bihar.

The Commission, which includes the CEC and two fellow commissioners, usually visit poll-bound states to interact with various stakeholders like police, civic authorities and political parties ahead of announcing poll schedule.

According to a statement issued by the poll panel, Arora explained the impact of Covid-19 on the election.

He highlighted how coronavirus exigencies and social distancing measures necessitated a revisit of the EC's existing instructions.

The maximum number of electors at a polling station was reduced from 1,500 to 1,000, and consequently, the number of polling stations jumped by 40%, from 65,000 to 1,00,000. These changes have huge logistics and manpower implications, he pointed out.

The CEC also observed that the poll watchdog has placed a lot of emphasis on extending facilitation to senior citizens, women, persons with disabilities and in current circumstances, ensuring franchise to Covid-19 positive voters and those in quarantine.

In this context, he told the gathering how, beginning with the elections to the legislative assembly of Jharkhand in November-December 2019, and elections to the legislative assembly of Delhi in February this year, the postal ballot facility was extended to voters who are aged more than 80 years, persons with disability and those engaged in specified essential services.

This facility of postal ballot has been extended to Covid-19 positive electors who are in quarantine or are hospitalised.

Also read: No Party Can Form Government In Bihar Alone, Alliance A Reality: Sushil Modi

Earlier this month, the Election Commission had said it has decided to hold 65 pending by-elections and the Bihar assembly polls "around the same time".

There are 64 vacancies in the legislative assemblies of various states and one in Lok Sabha.

The term of the 243-member Bihar assembly ends on Nov. 29 and elections are likely to be held sometime in October-November.

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