Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has conducted an in-depth review of the poll preparedness for the upcoming 2021 Assam Assembly elections.
The Election Commission team comprising of election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar and other members met different political leaders on Wednesday in Guwahati to take note of their issues and concerns.
The Commission reviewed the poll preparedness work with officials of different departments.
It also met railway and airport authorities, security agencies like BSF, SSB, state-level bankers’ committee, etc to review in detail the policy to curb misuse of money, drugs, liquor and freebies distribution during the upcoming elections.
The political parties requested the commission to keep in view the Bihu festival while deciding the election date to encourage more voters’ turnout.
They also stressed the need to increase polling booths and a list of such auxiliary polling booths be made available so as to enable them to organize their own booth committees and logistics.
The commission also stressed the need for adequate security even at the remote polling stations and the deployment of commensurate security personnel.
The meeting also focused on important issues like increasing expenditure limits, distribution of electors’ photo identity cards and misuse of government machinery and money during the elections.
The representatives also requested the commission to make realistic timelines for publishing the criminal antecedents of contesting candidates in media and monitoring of social media platforms to prevent the circulation of communal speeches.
Although the Election Commission deploys experienced officers as observers from outside the state in every election after due scrutiny, it can deploy special observers in sensitive constituencies or districts to monitor and ensure that elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.
In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the maximum number of electors at a polling station has been reduced from 1500 to 1000.
The Commission directed all officials concerned to provide minimum facilities like drinking water, toilets, waiting area and ramps at all polling stations.
All polling stations should have voter assistance booths and polling should be conducted while strictly adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
The Election Commission directed all district election officers to ensure fidelity of rolls.
The Special Summary Revision of Photo Electoral Rolls 2021 exercise has been completed on January 18 with the final publication of the electoral roll.
Block-level officers will do house to house visit for the facilitation of Form 12 D for senior citizens and people with disabilities so that they can exercise their option for the postal ballot if they desire.
This will be available from the date of announcement till the fifth day following notification of elections.
It has been ensured that all auxiliary polling stations are located at ground level and in the vicinity of the main polling station.
Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation programme will be also be intensified in Assam to reach out to more voters, especially the aged, people with disabilities, youngsters and women.