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Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Coronavirus impact on Bihar polls, know how different it will be

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Announcing the election schedule, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that there will be three phases of voting in Bihar. In the first phase, voting will be held in 71 leftist extremist affected assembly seats in 16 districts. For this, 31 thousand polling stations have been built. In the second phase, polling will be held for 94 assembly seats in 17 districts. For this, 42 thousand polling stations have been built. Polling will be held in 78 assembly seats in 15 districts in the third phase. There will be two-phase voting in 10 districts.

The Election Commission has already issued guidelines for voting in the period of coronavirus infection. For Bihar elections, the Commission has managed 60 lakh hand sanitizers, 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE moths, 6.7 lakh face shields, and 23 lakh hand gloves.

Permission to use three vehicles in the election campaignThe Election Commission has optionally provided an online facility for filing nominations and affidavits. This will be the first time that the candidate is being given the facility to deposit the bail amount online related to contesting elections. According to the Election Commission, now only five people can campaign from house to house in one go. Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the State will have to be followed during public meetings and roadshows. This time, using the face mask, sanitizer, thermal scanner, gloves, face shield, and PPE kit, one has to follow the social distance law.

Provision of gloves for registering votes on EVMs

During the election, every voter will be given gloves to sign in the voter register and register their vote on the EVM. At the district level, the election officials will prepare the election plan, including the guidelines, separately, keeping in view the local situation. The scheme will be prepared after consultation with the nodal officer associated with COVID-19. The Election Commission has prepared these guidelines after extensive consultation with political parties and Election Commission officials located in various states.

Up to 1,000 voters instead of 1,500 at a polling station

Besides, the maximum number of voters inside a polling station has been limited to 1,000 instead of 1,500. Thermal scanners will also be installed at the entry point of each polling station to ensure that no COVID-19 symptom is allowed to enter. For this purpose, either polling booth staff or paramedics or ASHA workers will be engaged. Each booth will be essentially sanitized the day before the vote.

Token distribution on a first-come, first-served basis

A helpdesk will be set up for token distribution on a first-come-first-served basis to protect voters from the line. Markers will also be used to display physical distance. It will be mandatory for all voters to wear a mask on the face and only for a short time the mask will be removed from the face at the time of identification. Face masks will be placed at the polling booth to make them available if they do not wear masks.

Permission to vote in the last hour for people with isolation

Voters residing in COVID-19-infected segregation and those with similar characteristics will be allowed to vote at their respective polling stations in the last hour of polling day. The Election Commission will issue separate guidelines in the coming days regarding the voters living in the constituency.

Adequate number of polling and counting staffThe seating arrangements at polling booths for polling personnel and polling agents will be done according to the rules of social distancing.  If a polling agent receives a temperature exceeding the prescribed limit, his reliever will be allowed to do duty in his place. District Education Officer and Returning Officer have been instructed to keep an adequate number of polling and counting staff in case an officer shows signs of COVID-19.

A kit for polling officers and security personnelEach polling officer and security personnel will be provided with a kit, which will have a face mask, sanitizer, face shield, and gloves. The Election Commission has also clarified that PPE kits will be made available to polling officers and security personnel wherever necessary.

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