Maharashtra Assembly Elections on October 21, counting on October 24

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New Delhi, September 21, 2019 : The Election Commission of India today announced the Schedule for General Election to the Legislative Assemblies of Haryana (90 seats) and Maharashtra (288 seats), 2019 as also the Schedule for bye-elections to fill casual vacancy in the Parliamentary Constituency & State Legislative Assemblies of various States/UTs.

The terms of the Legislative Assemblies of Haryana and Maharashtra are due to expire on November 2nd and 9th, 2019 respectively. The election will be held in single phase on October 21 and results will be declared on October 24.

A clean and updated electoral roll is the bedrock of conducting free, fair and credible election. The ECI attaches great importance on enrollment and verification of elgible voters and removal of invalid entries from the roll. The ECI, to further improve the quality of the list, ordered 2nd Special Summary Revision of Photo Electoral Rolls including the last part of Electoral Rolls for Service voters w.r.t. 01.01.2019 as the qualifying date (2nd SSR, 2019) in the states of Haryana & Maharashtra. The existing electoral rolls of all the Assemblies Constituencies in the states of Haryana & Maharashtra have been s i n c e revised with reference to 01.01.2019 as the qualifying date and the date of Final publication of electoral rollsin respect of Haryana & Maharashtra.

As per the final electoral rolls of 2nd SSR, 2019 published on 27.08.2019 and 31.08.2019 in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra respectively, the number of electors in the States of Haryana & Maharashtra are as follows:

Photo Electoral Rolls will be used during the General Election of Assemblies of both States. While in Haryana 100 % voters have photo identity cards, in Maharashtra 96.81 percent voters have such cards.

Photo Voter Slips (PVS)

To facilitate the voters to know at which serial number of electoral roll of which particular polling station he/she is enrolled as a voter, the Commission has directed that official voter slip bearing the Photo of the elector (wherever present in the roll) will be distributed at least 5 days before the date of poll to all enrolled electors by the District Election Officer (DEO) and a very close and rigorous monitoring of the distribution process shall be done by the DEO and General Observer concerned. The size, design and format of the Photo Voter Slip (PVS) hasalso been substantially improved to enhance its utility and effectiveness in voterawareness and guidance by increasing the size of the image, providing additional information along with polling station “Nazri Naksha” on the reverse of the slip and improvement in the quality of printing by generating pdf files through ERO Net.

It has also been directed that the said voter slip should be in the languages in which electoral roll is published for that Assembly Constituency. The Commission has laid a special emphasis on the systematic, efficient and timely distribution of the Photo Voter Slips through the Booth Level Officers (BLOs), who are under strict instructions to hand over the voter slip to the elector concerned only and not to any other person. The BLOs shall also maintain a Pre-Printed Register of Voters and take the signatures/thumb impression of person to whom the Photo Voter Slip is delivered.

The residual undistributed Photo Voter Slips shall be returned by the BLO to the concerned ERO, who shall keep the same in a sealed cover after making an alphabetical list of the undistributed PVS in respect of each Part/polling station. Two copies of such alphabetical lists shall be handed over to the RO of the concerned constituency, while sealed cover of undistributed photo voter slips shall remain in safe custody with the ERO. No further distribution of photo voter slips shall be done after the same are returned to the ERO.

The Returning Officer (RO) of the Constituency shall prepare a schedule for distribution of Photo Voter Slips by the BLOs. A copy of this schedule shall be given by the Returning Officer (RO) to the Political Parties and Booth Level Agents (BLAs) of all recognized political parties well in advance, if they have been appointed and contesting Candidates and their Agents, under acknowledgement.

Identification of Voters at Polling Stations

For identification of voters at Polling Station, the Voter shall present his EPIC or any of the following identification documents approved by the Commission along with the Photo Voter Slips:

i. Passport

ii. Driving License

iii. Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees

iv. Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office.

v. PAN Card

vi. Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR

vii.MNREGA Job Card

viii. Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of

Ministry of Labour

ix. Pension document with photograph

x. Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs and

xi. Aadhar Card

Braille Photo Voter Slips

To ensure ease of participation and active engagement of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the election process, the Commission has directed to issue Accessible Photo Voter Slips with Braille Features to Persons with Visual Impairment or Blind, over and above normal Photo Voter Slips to be issued.

Voter Guide

In this election, a Voter Guide (in Vernacular / English) shall be handed over to every household ahead of the elections, giving information about the date and time of polls, contact details of the BLOs, important websites, helpline numbers, documents required for identification at the polling station besides other important information including the Do’s and Don’ts for voters at the polling station. This Voter Guide Brochure will be distributed along with the Photo Voter Slips by the BLOs.

Minimum Facilities (AMF) at Polling Stations

The Commission has issued instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers of all concerned States/ UTs to ensure that every Polling Station shall have good access road leading to Polling station building and is equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) like drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, ramp of appropriate gradient for the PwD electors and a standard voting compartment etc.

Facilitation for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and Senior Citizens

The Commission has issued instructions to ensure that as far as practicable, all polling stations are located at ground floor and sturdy ramps of proper gradient are provided for the convenience of differently-abled electors with wheel-chairs. Further, in order to provide targeted and need- based facilitation to differently-abled voters, the Commission has directed that all Persons with Disabilities in an Assembly Constituency are identified and tagged to their respective Polling Stations and necessary disabilityspecific

Arrangements made for their smooth and convenient voting experience on the poll day. Identified PWD electors will be assisted by volunteers appointed by RO/DEO. Special facilitation will be made for PWD electors at Polling Stations. Also, it has been directed that differently-abled electors are given priority for entering polling booths, provision made for designated parking spaces close to the entrance of polling premise and special care to be provided to electors with speech and hearing impairment. Special focus has been laid for the sensitization of the polling personnel regarding the special needs of the differently-abled.

The Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) that there should be proper transport facility for PwD electors in each and every polling station on the day of poll. Each and every PwD elector will be provided free pass on public transport on poll day.

Voter Facilitation Posters

In order to fulfill the statutory requirements under Rule 31 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 and to provide accurate and relevant information for voter awareness and information at each polling station, the Commission has also directed that uniform and standardized Voter Facilitation Posters (VFP) shall be displayed on all Polling Stations for greater facilitation and awareness of the voters.

A total of FOUR (4) Posters have been designed to capture voter-centric information relevant on the poll day like details of the Polling Booth, polling area specified for that particular polling booth, list of contesting candidates, contact details of the important election functionaries, list of prescribed identification documents, illustrative voting procedure, items prohibited around the polling booth and important Do’s and Dont’s to be observed on the poll day. The Commission has directed that these four VFPs shall be prominently displayed at each polling booth in the poll-going State.

Voter Assistance Booths (VAB)

Voter Assistance Booths shall be set up for every polling station location, having a team of BLO/officials with the objective of facilitating the voter to locate his/her polling booth number and serial number of that voter in the electoral roll of that concerned polling booth. The VABs will be set up with prominent signage and in such a manner that it will be conspicuous to the voters as they approach the polling premise/building to enable them to seek required facilitation on the poll day. Alphabetic locator generated with ERO Net is placed at VAB to search the name easily and to know the serial number in the Electoral Roll.

Increase in Height of Standardized Voting Compartment to ensure Secrecy of Voting

In order to maintain the secrecy of vote at the time of poll and to achieve uniformity in use of voting compartments, the Commission has issued revised instructions to increase the height of the Voting Compartments to 30 inches. It has been, further, directed that the Voting Compartment should be placed on a table whose height shall be 30 inches and only corrugated plastic sheet (flex-board) of steel-grey colour, which is completely opaque and reusable, shall be used for making the voting compartments. The Commission hopes that the use of these standardized and uniform Voting Compartments in all the polling booths will translate into greater voter facilitation, ensure absolute secrecy of vote and eliminate aberrations and non-uniformity in the preparation of Voting Compartment inside the polling booths.

Polling stations managed by women

As part of its firm commitment towards gender equality and greater constructive participation of women in the electoral process, the Commission has also directed that, to the extent possible, at least one polling station managed exclusively by women shall be set up in every Assembly Constituency in Haryana & Maharashtra. In such stations all election staff, including police and security personnel, must be women.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs):

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) The Commission has decided to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) along with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at every polling station in the General Elections to State Legislative Assemblies of Haryana and Maharashtra to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process as VVPAT allows the voter to verify his/her vote. The Commission has already made arrangements to ensure availability of adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs for the smooth conduct of elections.

GPS tracking of movement of EVMs and VVPATs

The Commission has instructed the Chief Electoral Officers of all States and UTs that end-to-end movement of all Reserve EVMs and VVPATs shall be carefully monitored at all times, for which all Sector Officers’ vehicles with Reserve EVMs and VVPATs shall mandatorily be fitted with GPS tracking system.

Photographs Of Candidates On EVM Ballot Paper

In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, the ECI has prescribed an additional measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate also on the ballot paper to be displayed on the EVM (Ballot Unit) and on Postal Ballot Papers. This will help avoid any confusion, which may arise when candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency. For this purpose, the candidates are required to submit to the Returning Officer, their recent Stamp Size photograph as per the specifications laid down by the Commission.