By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 24 Dec: The Election Commission has extended the polling time for Uttarakhand Assembly elections by one hour. This was announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra at a press conference held at a local hotel today. He informed media that voting would now be held from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. in the state. This decision has been taken in consultation with the representatives of various political parties in view of the special geographical conditions in the state.
Chandra further stated that five booths would be set up just for the differently-abled and, in these, the staff posted on polling duty would also be differently-abled. During the elections, volunteers would help the disabled voters across the state. Along with this, 100 booths would be set up only for the women in the state. In these booths, the entire staff deputed for polling duty would be women only.
Chandra added that, in the coming assembly elections, elderly voters above 80 years of age unable to come to the polling booth, would be able to cast their vote from home. For this, the BLOs would go to the house of the voters and get the votes cast through postal ballot. Videos of the process would be recorded.
Sushil Chandra said that the term of the present government would be completed in Uttarakhand on 25 March, 2022. Fair and transparent elections would be conducted in the 70 assembly constituencies of the state and the Election Commission was fully prepared for this.
Covid Safe Polling Booths are being constructed so that voting can be held with masks, sanitisation and social distancing norms. The Chief Election Commissioner said that 601 grounds and sites had been identified for public rallies in the state.
He informed the media that the Commission had met representatives of six political parties here. Political parties had demanded fair elections. Discussions were also held with political parties regarding Covid-19. At the same time, there were discussions with Income Tax and Police officials and District Magistrates regarding the enforcement of rules in the elections.
A meeting was also held with the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police.
According to the Chief Election Commissioner, there are 81.4 lakh voters in Uttarakhand this time and there are more than 66,000 differently-abled voters. Service voters number more than 93,000. The number of polling booths would be increased this time to follow the Covid-19 protocol. This time, a polling station would serve 12 hundred voters in view of the Covid pandemic. There are 11,647 polling stations in Uttarakhand. This time 623 new polling stations have been added to the list. VVPATs will be installed along with EVMs at all polling booths.
Chandra said that political parties would have to disclose to the public through newspapers and through their own web portals information about the candidates who have any criminal record. The Election Commission has appealed to all the citizens that, if they see anything wrong in the election, they should take a photo and send it to the Election Commission.
Earlier, on Thursday, under the chairmanship of Sushil Chandra, there was a round of meetings on election preparations. The Election Commission team had reached Dehradun, yesterday, to review the preparations for the assembly elections in Uttarakhand.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, Anoop Chandra Pandey, Chief Electoral Officer, Uttarakhand, today also flagged off the Divyang Rath for voter awareness in the state. The Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners inspected the stalls put up by various districts containing publicity material prepared to generate awareness about the election process. In addition, puppet shows and street plays were also presented.
A meeting with representatives of political parties was first held under the chairmanship of the Chief Election Commissioner at a hotel near Nanda ki Chowki on Thursda. The commission urged the political parties to follow the Covid protocol in view of the possibility of a third wave of the corona epidemic. He said that only a maximum of five vehicles would be allowed during roadshows. At the same time, political parties requested the commission to increase the limit of election expenditure in view of inflation.
The Chief Election Commissioner also held a meeting with the District Election Officers and Superintendents of Police regarding the election preparations. All the district election officers of the state gave presentations on polling booths, voter lists, training of employees, EVMs and other issues in their respective districts. After this, the Chief Electoral Officer and the State Nodal Police Officer laid the blueprint of the election preparations before the Commission. Chief Electoral Officer Sowjanya, District Election Officers and Superintendents of Police of the state were present at the meeting.
The Chief Election Commissioner released the logo and voter directory of the Uttarakhand Assembly Election 2022. Along with this, posters providing information about EVMs and VVPATs and videos of the poster design competition were also released.
By Our Staff Reporter