What Precaution Is the EC Taking for Vote Counting Day?
Counting for the Assembly elections in WB, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry will be held on 2 May.
Counting for the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry will be held on Sunday, 2 May.
But in view of the second wave of coronavirus across the country, the Election Commission has imposed stricter restrictions for what will be allowed and what won’t be allowed for parties and candidates on counting day.
What are norms for the candidates inside counting centres?
They will be allowed at the centres only if they have received both doses of the vaccination or if they can provide a negative COVID report.
The Election Commission of India, on Wednesday, 28 April, said that unvaccinated candidates will not be allowed inside vote counting centres without a negative COVID report.
Candidates and their agents will need to provide a negative RT-PCR test that is not more than 48 hours old, the EC directed. The order categorically says that no one showing symptoms of COVID ‘like fever, cough, etc’ will be allowed inside the centres.
“But candidates may replace/appoint the counting agents if the report is positive,” the order reads.
What precautions are being taken inside the counting centres?
There are directions to sanitise the premises of the counting centres beforehand and disinfect the EVM and VVPAT machines.
Every officer will be handed a mask, sanitiser, face-shield, and gloves.
What about public gatherings and victory rallies?
As part of COVID precautions, the election body had earlier banned victory rallies by political parties as well. In a fresh order, public gathering outside counting centres on 2 May has been banned as well.
What about those who violate COVID guidelines?
The EC said that anybody found violating instructions on COVID-19 measures will be charged under provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Legal action will also be taken against violators as well, under Section 188 of the IPC.
Recently, the Election Commission received a lot of flak from high courts for not ensuring strict adherence to COVID guidelines during elections, amid the second surge in the country.
While the Madras High Court said it was the ‘only institution’ responsible for the deadly COVID-19 second wave in India. The HC also threatened to stop counting if the EC did not come up with a ‘blueprint’ of what kind of precautions it would take on counting day.
The Calcutta High Court has too been dissatisfied with the EC’s implementation of COVID norms during the Bengal elections.
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.