The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday announced the dates for assembly polls in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur will expire on May 14, March 23, March 23, March 15, March 19 respectively. Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Election Commission banned election rallies, roadshows and corner meetings till January 15 in the five poll-bound states.
Uttar Pradesh to go to poll in 7 phases from 10th Feb to 7th March; Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa to vote on 14th February & Manipur to vote on 27th Feb & 3 March; Counting of votes on 10th March: ECI pic.twitter.com/hxKms5e8hi
— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2022
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said basic preparations were taken to ensure Covid-safe election, hassle-free voter experience, and maximum voters participation. The commission visited poll-bound states to review preparations and has been working to ensure Covid-free elections. “We also held meetings with health officials of the states which are going to polls,” he said.
Here are the key highlights from the Election Commission’s press conference today:
• All elections in five states will be completed in seven phases.
• The first date of issuing of notification will start on January 14 in Uttar Pradesh. The date of polling for the first phase in the state is February 10.
• Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will be held in single phase on February 14. Issuing of notification will be on January 21. UP elections will also continue for the second phase on February 14.
• The third phase of UP elections will be held on February 20.
• The fourth phase of UP elections will be held on February 23.
• Manipur will go for polling in two phases. First phase on February 27. The fifth phase polling on same day for Uttar Pradesh.
• Manipur to go for second phase on March 3. It will be the sixth phase for Uttar Pradesh.
• In the seventh phase, Uttar Pradesh will go for polling on March 7.
• The results of all seven states will be announced on March 10.
• Basic preparations were taken to ensure Covid-19 safe election, hassle-free voter experience and maximum voters participation.
• A total of 690 Assembly constituencies in Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab will go to polls this time.
• The terms of expiry of assemblies in five poll-bound states: Goa: March 15, 2022 Manipur: March 19, 2022 Uttarakhand: March 23, 2022 Punjab: March 23, 2022 Uttar Pradesh: May 14, 2022
• Elections to be held for 403 assembly seats in UP, 117 in Punjab, 70 in Uttarakhand 60 in Manipur and 40 in Goa.
• As Covid cases soared in view of Omicron variant, ECI held meetings with Union Health Secretary, Home Secretary, experts and health secretaries of States. After taking these views and ground situation, ECI decided to announce polls with safety norms in place.
• A total of 18.34 crore electors including service voters will take part in this election. Out of this, 8.55 crore are women electors.
• 24.9 lakh first-time electors are registered in the five states including Uttar Pradesh.
• 2,15,368 polling stations will be there in five states. An increase of 16 per cent since 2017.
• ECI has mandated that at least one polling station managed exclusively by women shall be set up in every Assembly constituency. Our officers have identified much more than that. There are 690 Assembly seats but we are setting up 1,620 such polling booths.
• Online nomination facility is available to candidates in the upcoming polls, however, this will be voluntary.
• 60% of the polling stations have been covered by webcasting for transparency.
• Senior citizens above 80 years of age, persons with disabilities and Covid-19 patients can vote by postal ballot.
• It is mandatory for political parties to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases selected as poll candidates. They will also have to give a reason to select the candidate.
• EVMs and VVPATs will be utilized in all the polling stations. Election Commission has already made arrangements to ensure an adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs for the smooth conduct of elections.
• Model code of conduct comes into immediate effect in the five states. Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of the MCC guidelines. Any violation of these guidelines will be strictly dealt with.
• Our cVIGIL application should be used by voters to report any incident of violation of the Model Code of Conduct, distribution of money & freebies. Within 100 minutes of complaint, ECI officials will reach the place of offence.
• Polling stations identified where the voting percentage was lower than earlier years or below average to take corrective measures.
• Since the Covid situation is very dynamic, all central, state officials on election duty to be doubly vaccinated.
• All EC officials and employees will be treated like frontline workers and will be vaccinated with the booster or precautionary dose.
• Polling time has been increased by one hour in all five assembly states.
• No yatra, procession, road show, cycle bike, padyatras or vehicle rally or physical rally by political parties will be allowed up to 15 January. The situation will be reviewed and fresh instructions to be issued later.
• No victory processions will be allowed after declaration of the results.