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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission of India has issued certain guidelines for the conduct of by-elections in Balasore Sadar and Tirtol Assembly Constituencies keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic. Odisha Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) SK Lohani informed mediapersons regarding the new rules from the process of nomination to the casting of votes and counting.

  • Only two persons and two vehicles can accompany a candidate while s/he is visiting the election office to file nomination papers.
  • The nomination will be filed in a hall or in a spacious place where social distancing can be maintained and use of hand sanitizers and masks are mandatory.
  • Electors above 80 years of age, people with disabilities and Covid-19 suspected or infected persons who are in quarantine can avail postal ballot facility. The process to avail postal ballot facility began today and will continue till October 14.
  • A Booth Level Officer (BLO) will visit the houses of the concerned electors in the polling station area and deliver 12-D form. The elector may or may not opt for postal ballot in the acknowledgement attached with the form 12-D. In case the elector goes for postal ballot, then the BLO will collect the filled-in form 12-D from the elector within five days of the notification and deposit it with the Returning Officer (RO).
  • The Returning Officer will deploy polling team, who will deliver and collect the postal ballot on a pre-informed date and deposit it with the RO.
  • Maximum of 5 people, including candidate, will be allowed for door to door campaign. The district election officers (DEO) will pre-identify some places where public meetings or rallies can be held while adhering to social distancing norms.
  • The number of booths has been increased to avoid large gathering. Only 1000 voters will be allowed to case vote in a polling booth.
  • Two officers will be deployed outside the polling booth who will carry out thermal screening and provide mask, gloves and hand sanitizer to the electors.
  • If an elector is screened with high temperature above the prescribed limit, s/he will be facilitated to vote in the last hour of poll.
  • Strict action will be taken against those found flouting the Covid-19 protocols.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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