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New Delhi, August 21, 2020
The Election Commission of India (ECI) today approved the broad guidelines for the conduct of general elections and bye-elections during the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have been issuing guidelines from time to time.
In their latest circular dated July 29, MHA has issued comprehensive guidelines and directives to be followed countywide. Similarly, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has also issued SOP on disinfection, sanitization, and prevention for containing COVID-19.
Earlier, the Commission on July 17, had sought the views and suggestions of national and state political parties by July 31 and had further extended the period till August 11 on request of the political parties. The Commission has considered the views and suggestions received from various political parties and Chief Electoral Officers of States and Union Territories on election campaigns and public meetings.
The Commission has revised the norms on the number of persons accompanying the candidate and the number of vehicles at the time of nomination. It has also created an optional facility to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking a printout, before the RO concerned.
For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit the security amount for contesting the elections online. Keeping the containment guidelines in view, the Commission has limited the number of persons including the candidate for a door to door campaign to five.
Public meetings and roadshows will be permissible with suitable instructions subject to containment instructions issued by the MHA and the state government. Face masks, sanitizer, thermal scanners, gloves, face shields and PPE kits should be used during the electoral process, ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter register and pressing the button of EVM for voting.
The Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States and UTs shall make comprehensive State and District as well as Assembly Constituency (AC) election plans regarding the arrangement and preventive measures following these guidelines taking local conditions into account.
These plans will be prepared in consultation with Nodal Officer for COVID-19 in their respective States/UTs, an official press release added.