ECI had to add 'safe election' while conducting polls during pandemic: CEC

ANI
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CEC Sunil Arora speaking on Thursday. Photo/ANI
CEC Sunil Arora speaking on Thursday. Photo/ANI

By Ambuj Pandey

New Delhi [India], November 5 (ANI): Addressing the delegates and two international bodies, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Thursday stated that while conducting Bihar Assembly polls, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had to add a major facet called "safe election".

"We had to add a major facet of a safe election this time. This year (due to the pandemic) the task was more challenging. Our officers went to Bihar for preview meetings. Then Commission went to Bihar and had a non-virtual meeting with the representatives of political parties, with district machinery, senior officials and others too," Arora said.

As per the data available so far, the percentage of voter turnout in Bihar Assembly elections (till the second phase) is higher compared to that of the 2015 Assembly election and the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

He mentioned that although elections conducted before pandemic had words like robust, free and fair, however amid pandemic "the word virtual is a new addition to the vocabulary of elections."

Almost 60 countries postponed their election due to the COVID-19 scenario, however, later they started holding them.

"We had to create 33 thousand more polling stations in order to bring down the number of voters from 1,500 to 1000. It meant much more manpower and arrangements. Other steps such as facilities like 80 plus citizens being able to vote from their homes were also initiated," he said.

The ECI chief expressed his gratitude toward the security forces "for staying up to the occasion."

The Election Commission of India is organising an International Virtual Election Visitors Programme 2020 (IEVP) for foreign Election Management Bodies (EMBs)/Organisations from November 5-7 2020, in the context of the ongoing Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections.

The program for IEVP 2020 comprises of an online briefing session today which would provide the participants an overview of the large canvas of the Indian electoral process, the new initiatives taken by ECI on voter facilitation, transparency, and accessibility of the electoral system, and ECI's response to the changing needs of training and capacity building.

The participants would be invited on the last day for a virtual tour of polling stations in Bihar amplified by exclusive footage, a walkthrough of the electoral process, and various arrangements at the polling station for a free, fair, participative, and safe election. (ANI)