The Election Commission of India (ECI) has said that for the first time, the option of the postal ballot would be provided to 80+ citizens, persons with disabilities and Covid suspects or affected persons in Manipur Assembly Elections.

“The postal ballot facility is an optional facility and ensures total secrecy of voting. Representatives of candidates will be present during the process and the total procedure will be videographed. In the state, 14,565 persons with disabilities and over 41,867 80+ citizens have been mapped,” the poll panel said.

The ECI on Wednesday held a virtual meeting with political parties and poll officials from Manipur.

The term of the 60-member Manipur Assembly is due to expire on March 19, 2022.

The main issues raised by the political parties at the meeting included concerns about the use of money power, illicit liquor, narcotics and intimidation to influence voters.

The political parties requested strict vigil on election expenses by the candidates to ensure free and fair polling.

While expressing concerns about pre-poll violence, the political parties demanded the deployment of adequate security forces during the poll process along with other relevant measures.

The parties also raised concerns about the implementation of strict Covid protocols for everyone’s safety.

The Commission assured the representatives that it has taken cognizance of the suggestions, and it is committed to conduct free, fair, participative, inclusive, inducement-free and Covid safe elections in the state.

During the review meeting, the Commission also emphasized conducting the elections with 100 per cent vaccinated polling staff, proper sanitization and social distancing at the polling stations.

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