Three-phased polls for Bihar, results on November 10
Bihar will vote in three phases and the results will be declared on November 10, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora declared on Friday. With this announcement, the Model Code of Conduct came into effect. The first phase for 71 constituencies will be held on October 28; the second phase for 94 constituencies on November 3; and third for 78 constituencies on November 7.
At the outset of the press conference, Arora said he understands the risk polls pose. He added that since coronavirus is showing no signs of abetting, EC realized that it would have to find a balance between the democratic rights and the well-being of people. Notably, the Bihar Assembly will expire on November 29, and incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is eyeing another term.
Further, Arora said the number of voters has swelled from 67 million in 2015 to 72 million this year. Considering the high number of voters, the precautions were bound to be extensive. Arora revealed that postal ballots have been extended to voters above 80, and this option will be available to those who ask for it. The move is intended to reduce transmission risk.
"Over 7 lakh hand sanitizer units, 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of face-shields, 23 lakh (pairs of) hand gloves have been arranged. For voters specifically, 7.2 crore single-use hand gloves have been arranged," Arora added. The polling time has also been increased by one hour.
About electioneering, Arora said all meetings will be overlooked by health officials. "Public gatherings can take place following social distancing norms. The District Election Officers will decide on the number of people allowed in such gatherings," he went on. He also urged candidates and parties to not indulge in hate speech, stay away from spreading fake news, warning that such acts could invite disqualification.
Arora said polls entail a heavy deployment of security but for the unprecedented elections, the number has been brought down. "This is due to their fatigue as well as COVID-19. We have reduced the number of phases due to this," he added. He disclosed that officials from the Election Commission visited Bihar and judged that the state was ready to go into polls.