Thursday, August 5, 2021

Conducting elections during Covid -19 discussed by democracies across the globe

On completion of one year of Chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), Election Commission of India today hosted an International Webinar on the Theme ‘‘Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19 : Sharing Country Experiences’. It was an occasion for democracies world over to come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid19.

It may be recalled that last year on 03 Sep 2019 India had taken over as Chair of A-WEB for 2019-2021 term during the 4th General Assembly of A-WEB held at Bengaluru. Inaugurating the Webinar, Chief Election Commissioner of India and Chairperson, A-WEB Shri Sunil Arora spoke of the “tough predicament” faced by Election Management Bodies across the world – whether and how to hold scheduled elections in a state of public health emergency.

He said the contextual framework of every country was different, the extent and trajectory of the disease varied and so did the capacity of each country to respond to the novel corona virus and its catastrophic impact. He mentioned countries such as South Korea, Australia, Malawi, Taiwan, Mongolia and many others who went ahead with scheduled elections even as they put in place the enormous arrangements required to ensure the health and safety of people while conducting election.

Sunil Arora mentioned that Elections in India pose formidable challenges on account of large electorate, geographical and linguistic diversity and differing climatic conditions. Explaining in detail the scale of the upcoming elections to the Legislative Assembly of Bihar, he mentioned that the total number of electors is 72.9 million.

MUST READ  Likelihood of village-style quarantine facility near Avalon Airport, Victoria

Explaining the impact of Covid-19 on the election, Shri Arora highlighted how Covid19 exigencies and social distancing measures necessitated a revisit of ECI’s extant instructions. The maximum number of electors at a polling station was reduced from 1500 to 1000, and consequently, the number of polling stations jumped by 40 per cent, from 65,000 to 100,000. These changes have huge logistics and manpower implications. CEC mentioned that the Commission would take a decision within the next two to three days, on visiting Bihar.

Chief Election Commissioner also mentioned that ECI has placed a lot of emphasis on extending facilitation to senior citizens, women, Persons with disabilities and in current circumstances, ensuring franchise to Covid positive voters and those in quarantine. In this context, the CEC mentioned how, beginning with the elections to the Legislative Assembly of Jharkhand in November-December 2019, and elections to the Legislative Assembly of Delhi in February 2020, the postal ballot facility was extended to voters who are aged more than 80 years, persons with disability and those who engaged in specified essential services. This facility of postal ballot has been extended to Covid positive electors who are in quarantine/hospitalized.

MUST READ  Election Commission raises expenditure limit for candidates by 10 pc

Shri Sunil Arora mentioned the specific and detailed guidelines that have been drawn up on conducting election during the time of Covid. He also mentioned the successful conduct of elections to 18 seats of the Rajya Sabha in the month of June, 2020. He noted that elections are due in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Naduin the first half of the year 2021.

MUST READ  New guidelines for party candidates to advertise their criminal cases in newspapers, TV channels

CEC recalled the AWEB General Assembly, held in Bengaluru in September 2019. He noted that the Webinar today is being held under the aegis of India A-WEB Centre on the occasion of completion of one year of ECI’s term as Chair of A-WEB.

Mentioning the two publications being released today viz. ‘Brief Profiles of the Countries, member EMBs and Partner Organisations of A-WEB’and ‘COVID 19 and International Election Experience’, he said these would be a useful tool for researchers and practitioners alike. He said that A-WEB India Centre has also progressed considerably towards publishing a world class journal called “AWEB Journal of Elections’. The first issue of this journal will be released in March 2021.

Over 120 delegates from 45 countries across the world (viz. Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia,Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tonga, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Zambia) and 4 international organizations (viz. International IDEA, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and European Centre for Elections) participated in the Webinar today.

The Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) is largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide. At present A-WEB has 115 EMBs as Members & 16 Regional Associations/Organisations as Associate Members. ECI has been very closely associated with the process of formation of A-WEB since 2011-12.

Latest news

India get Olympic medal after 41 yrs in Hockey, beat Germany 5-4 to get Bronze

A resolute Indian men's hockey team rewrote history as it claimed an Olympic medal after 41 years, defeating a plucky Germany 5-4 to win...

UK eases entry restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers from India

Fully vaccinated Indian passengers flying to the UK will no longer be put through a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine as the UK moved the...
MUST READ  Northern Territory miner's family including baby covid positive

Transgender Olympian Laurel Hubbard’s dead silence at reporter’s question

New Zealand’s transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard cemented her place in history on Monday evening, but it led to an awkward moment at a press...

SPC makes COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all staff

In an Australian first, manufacturer SPC is making the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for all staff. It is the first non-health care company to make the...

Related news

India get Olympic medal after 41 yrs in Hockey, beat Germany 5-4 to get Bronze

A resolute Indian men's hockey team rewrote history as it claimed an Olympic medal after 41 years, defeating a plucky Germany 5-4 to win...

UK eases entry restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers from India

Fully vaccinated Indian passengers flying to the UK will no longer be put through a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine as the UK moved the...

Transgender Olympian Laurel Hubbard’s dead silence at reporter’s question

New Zealand’s transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard cemented her place in history on Monday evening, but it led to an awkward moment at a press...

SPC makes COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all staff

In an Australian first, manufacturer SPC is making the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for all staff. It is the first non-health care company to make the...

Victoria records five new cases, Queensland 16

Victoria has recorded six new covid-19 infections today after more than 27,000 people came forward for testing. Three of the cases, including one which was reported...

Five Covid deaths in NSW; snap lockdown for Newcastle and Hunter region

The number of active cases in NSW continues to climb with 262 new infectious announced on Thursday morning, the highest number of daily infections...

Himachal makes negative RT-PCR report mandatory for tourists entering state

In view of the increasing Covid cases in the state, Himachal Pradesh has made negative RT-PCR report mandatory for tourists entering the state. The Disaster...

“Himmat Rakhna,” Parents had said before they died of Covid, daughter scores full marks in class X

Vanisha Pathak of Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal scored 100 in her English, Sanskrit, Science and Social Science Class X CBSE exams, and 97 in Mathematics...