Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Abhijit Sinha addressing a press conference in Kohima on January 19. (Morung Photo)
Kohima | January 19
Nagaland State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Abhijit Sinha, IAS, today said the Election Commission has taken various measures to ensure free and fair elections in Nagaland scheduled for February 27.
Addressing a press conference here today, Sinha said that the Election Commission has worked to create a conducive atmosphere in which each elector would be able to access polling stations and cast their vote without being obstructed or being unduly influenced/intimated by anybody.
The CEO also updated that there are 2194 Polling Stations in the state, out of which 1048 are identified as critical, 519 vulnerable and 627 as normal. He said VVPATs will be used along with EVMs in all polling stations of each assembly constituency to enhance transparency and credibility.
To ensure all registered service voter’s participation in the elections, the Commission has implemented Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS), which will also be used in Nagaland.he model code of conduct has already come into effect.
Security arrangement, deployment of forces
273 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) along with 58 companies of State Armed Police and District Executive Force numbering 5698 will be deployed.
He also informed that the Polling Stations would be manned by CAPF, while state Police forces will look into security and the Assam Rifles will provide environmental security.
Sinha informed that security would be intensified in the inter-state and international borders.
Photo Electoral Rolls
Sinha meanwhile informed that Photo Electoral Roll (PER) coverage stands at 99.99%. Identification of voters at the polling booth at the time of poll shall be mandatory. Electors who have been provided with Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) shall be identified through EPIC. Presently, the EPIC coverage in the state stands 96.95%.
Assured Minimum Facilities at polling stations
The Commission has upgraded the status of facilities at polling stations from the earlier concept of Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) to Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF).
The CEO said that every polling station will be equipped with facilities like drinking water, shed, toilet etc. The Commission has issued instructions to ensure that polling stations are located at the ground floor and sturdy ramps are provided for the convenience of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) electors.
The Commission has directed that all PwDs in be identified and mapped with their respective polling stations and necessary disability-specific arrangements be made for their smooth and convenient voting experience on poll day. Volunteers will assist the identified PwDs.
They will also be given priority for entering polling booths, provision for designated parking spaces and special facilities to electors with speech and hearing impairment.
Other arrangements include separate queues for men and women; infirm/senior citizen voters and women voters with babies in arms may be given precedence over other voters in the queue.
All women managed polling stations will also be set up in one polling station for each A/C.
Election expenditure monitoring
Flying Squads, Static Surveillance Teams, Video Surveillance Teams, involvement of investigation from the Directorate of Income Tax department etc will work towards expenditure monitoring. Candidates are required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses from that very account.
The maximum limit of election expenses for the assembly constituencies is Rs. 20 lakh per candidate, said Sinha.
The Commission will deploy General Observers in adequate number to ensure smooth conduct of elections. The Observers will be asked to keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections.
The Observers will fix a suitable time every day for meeting the political parties, candidates and other stakeholders to redress their election related grievances.
Senior IPS officers as Police Observers will be deployed depending upon the need, sensitivity and assessment of ground realities and prevailing law and order and security scenario. There will be Expenditure Observers who will exclusively monitor the election expenditure for the contesting candidates.
Control room and complaint monitoring centre with 24 hours toll free numbers shall be operative during the entire election process. Banks and financial intelligence units of the Government of India have been asked to forward suspicious cash withdrawal reports to the election officers. This is in addition to Micro-observers who will observe the proceedings at the polling stations on the poll day, right from the conduct of mock poll, to the completion of poll and the process of sealing of EVMs and VVPATs and other documents.