March 9, 2021 10:59:06 am
COVID-19 infected voters would be given personal protective equipment (PPE) kits while others hand gloves for casting their votes in the elections to Tamil Nadu assembly next month as part of preventive measures in view of the pandemic, state Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said in Chennai on Monday.
On the day of polling, every voter would be given hand gloves before voting to ensure there was no chance of transmission of infection through the Electronic Voting Machine, he said.
All other norms to help prevent COVID-19, including screening people with thermal scanners, would be followed during the polling on April 6, the official told a press conference at the Secretariat.
“People must go to polling stations wearing mask,” he said adding public should follow social distancing as well.
If people had fever or in case of suspicion about coronavirus, they would be given a medical certificate and allowed to vote during the last one hour.
In case of people infected with COVID-19 or suspected of being infected with the virus, they would be permitted to cast their votes wearing a PPE kit that would be provided by authorities, he said. Arrangements are in place to ensure availability of PPEs, he noted.
Both polling stations and personnel have been increased in view of the pandemic and as a result the total booths now stood at 88,937 as against 68,324 and would be manned by 4,79,892 personnel, the CEO said.
There are 76 counting centres in the state.
While previously only the vulnerable and sensitive polling stations were monitored through web camera, for the first time now, a minimum of 50 per cent of polling booths shall be connected to the devices.
As many as 150 general observers and 40 police observers have been deployed and they would all report in their respective assigned constituencies before March 19. Also, a total of 118 expenditure observers, plus one for Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency would be deployed from March 12, he said.
All preparations to hold the polls on April 6 had been done as per the guidelines.
A ‘candidate handbook’ is available on the website of the Election Commission and applicants may submit papers in tune with the stipulations, he said.
The filing of nomination begins on March 12 and would close on March 19 and applications cannot be filed on Saturday and Sunday, he said.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, besides the candidate, only two other persons would be allowed during filing of nominations, he said.
For every assembly constituency, three each of Flying Squad Team and Static Surveillance Teams have been deployed and their movement would be monitored through Global Positioning System 24×7, he said.
The Call Centre to receive poll related complaints could be accessed through toll free number ‘1950’ and the state-wide facility is now available round-the-clock.
Similarly, the Control Room here at the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (1800 4252 1950), manned by 25 people may also be approached by people for filing complaints, he said adding every call is recorded for ensuring prompt action.
Apart from the EPIC, eleven documents, including Aadhar, PAN, MGNREGA job card, bank or post office pass book or pension document (with photo), driving licence, and passport can be used as identity proof.
Along with the Voter Identification Slip that would be distributed to voters five days ahead of polls, voters may use one of these 12 documents to exercise their franchise, he said.
For voters aged 80-plus, COVID-19 affected people and persons with disability, the option of postal ballot is available. Such people may indicate their preference to the respective Returning Officers on or before March 16 and the ROs and District Election Officers would arrange issuance of ballots to them following due process, he said.
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