Millennium Post

India goes to vote on 7 April

India goes to vote on 7 April
The polling dates for three state legislative assemblies including Andhra Pradesh are 30 April and 7 May, on April 10-17 in Odisha, and on 12 April in Sikkim. Counting of votes will be on 16 May.

Addressing media persons, chief election commissioner (CEC) VS Sampath, accompanied by election commissioners HS Brahma and Dr Nasim Zaidi, made the announcement at Vigyan Bhavan here on Wednesday. With the announcement of poll dates, the model code of conduct came into force with immediate effect.

CEC Sampath said: ‘There has been an increase in the enrollment of electors in the age group of 18 to 19 years. Over 23 million electors are in this age group, which constitutes 2.88 per cent of total electors, against 0.75 per cent in 2009.’ The EC has also allowed enrollment of 28,314 transgender persons with gender written as ‘others’ in the electoral rolls since 2012. Those who are living abroad, which constitutes 11,844 electors, can cast their vote physically in their respective constituencies and postal ballot will not be allowed.

The commission informed that a total of 13,28,621 service electors would also get the opportunity to vote in this general election. Service voters are those who are a member of the armed forces serving outside his/her domicile state or a person who is employed under the central government, posted outside India rolls. Currently, there are 9,30,000 (approximately) polling stations in the country, with an increase of 11.9 percent, as compared to 8,30,866 in 2009 Lok Sabha election.

‘For the first time election slip will be served as a reminder and invitation for voters. I would like to appeal all the candidates not to use words that cause personal hurt to rivals,’ Sampath said. Like previous elections in 2004 and 2009, the EC has decided to use electronic voting machines (EVM) in all the polling stations.

While replying to media queries on poll arrangements at Maoist-infested areas, Sampath said, ‘All Naxalism-hit seats will be covered in one single day and the EC is fully prepared to ensure free and fair poll and the people living in vulnerable areas will be given adequate protection to exercise their vote.’

The EC has also taken special measures to monitor expenditure and use of money power. ‘It is a matter of concern for us and to deal with the issue there will be flying squads, check posts to keep an eye on money power activities. On the context of black money too we are alert. We will take strict action against officials found wanting on any account,’ he said.

On the issue of ‘paid news’, Sampath said, ‘We have sent a proposal to the union government to make it an electoral offence by making some amendments in the existing law. We have monitoring committees in districts and states. We add the expenditure to the expenditure account of the candidate concerned.’

While stressing on model code of conduct, Sampath, on the context of Rahul Gandhi’s push for ordinance in some of the anti-graft and other bills, said, ‘I am sure they will follow the rules and before taking any such initiative, they will have a discussion with us.’ Election Commissioner H S Brahma said, ‘Those who do not want to vote for any political leaders, can opt for the None of the Above (NOTA) button.’
M Post Bureau

M Post Bureau

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