EC tells observers to ensure free and fair polling
Chief Election Commissioner, N. Gopalaswami briefing the media after addressing the General Observers to be deputed for the General Election Duty. Election Commissioners, Navin B. Chawla and Dr. S.Y Qureshi are also seen.

EC tells observers to ensure free and fair polling

The Election Commission today asked the 2000-odd Central Election Observers who will be deployed during the April-May elections to the Lok Sabha and three State Assemblies to take all steps to ensure free and fair polling, including strict adherence to its directions on vulnerability mapping. The observers' attention has also been drawn to new directions issued by the Commission such as identification of critical polling stations/clusters, setting up of facilitation cenres for issue of postal ballot papers to the polling personnel, including security personnel, preparation of communication plan, randomisation of electronic voting machines and revised procedure of counting of votes. "All recent instructions of the Commission to ensure transparency in the entire election process have been explained to the Observers in detail," an official spokesman said. The observers attended a day-long briefing for them organised by the Election Commission here today. Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and Election Commissioners Navin Chawla and S Y Qureshi attended the meeting. The briefing will continue on Monday. In all, more than 2000 senior officers are being considered for appointment as observers to keep a close watch on the election process in the coming elections, which will also see bye-elections to fill casual vacancies in the legislative assemblies of Jharkhand, Karnataka, Mizoram, Nagaland, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. The states where elections to the legislative assemblies will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections are Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim. In view of the large number of observers required, their appointment has been made more broad-based this time so as to include the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Customs and Excise Service, Indian Forest Service and State Civil Service Officers. Unlike the last Lok Sabha elections in 2004, the functions of General and Expenditure observers have been merged this time. The number of officers to be deployed as observers has been worked out out depending on the size, sensitivity and the terrain of the constituency. For the 543 Parliamentary Constituencies 1,615 officers from Group ‘A’ and about 850 officers from State Civil services are being appointed as the Commission’s observers. As such, each Parliamentary Constituency will have a minimum of two to three Observers. The same Observer shall also take care of the assembly constituencies comprised in a Parliamentary Constituency, where the Legislative Assembly elections are simultaneously being held. These Observers have to reach their allotted constituencies latest by the last date of nomination and will remain there for the entire period ending with poll or repoll, wherever ordered. They shall again go to the constituency two days before counting of votes and remain there till the declaration of the result. The expenditure reports of the Observers shall be scrutinized, post election, by a select group of 3 to 4 senior expert officers who would be deputed to the Election Commission for the purpose. The Commission will identify these officers shortly. The Commission will also use Senior Cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) extensively for helping with queues and maintenance of discipline at the polling stations. The Commission has prepared a database of National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers to be used judiciously by the Observers for sundry election works, an official statement added. INT
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