Shillong: The Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Frederick Kharkongor announced on Wednesday that the total electorate for the upcoming polls is 21,61,129, with 10,68,801 male and 10,92,326 women voters.
The CFO said this is a positive sign, especially considering Meghalaya’s matrilineal society, where women’s enrolment is higher than males. Additionally, there are 3,844 service electors, and the net increase over the previous electorate is 2.36%.
Furthermore, 13,848 names were deleted from the Electoral Rolls due to reasons such as shifting of address, while the particulars of 40,500 electors were corrected. Additionally, there will be 7,478 members of the People with Disabilities (PWD) in the upcoming elections.
In comparison to the 2018 figures, the department has registered an 18% increase in terms of the electorate, with an absolute increase of 4,29,062 electors. Polls will be held on February 27, with counting taking place on March 2. The term of the present government will end on March 15, Kharkongor said.
In terms of the EP ratio, the state currently stands at 64.53%, and the gender ratio is a healthy 1,022.
In 2018, Meghalaya had 3,083 polling stations, and this number has now increased to 3,482, representing a jump of 147 from the last election.
To ensure that all 60 constituencies have access to the necessary facilities, Kharkongor has stated that there will be an effort to provide an assured minimum in all of the 60 constituencies.
Additionally, there will be a special focus on the rights of people with disabilities, with wheelchairs, ramps, poll volunteers, and other measures being taken to ensure that they have access to the elections.
“The new feature of Form 12D, as you are aware, was used in the last by-election, and we had about 300 people with disabilities (PWDs) who had exercised the option of home voting,” added Kharkongor. He went on to explain that PWDs and senior citizens aged 80 and above will be given the option to vote from home, and Form 12D is the form in which they will exercise their options. From the date of announcement up to five days after the nominations, they will be given an opportunity to vote from home.
The standardised voting compartment will also have self-adhesive stickers on three sides of the voting compartment, depicting the name of the election, the PCAC numbers, names, and the Polling Station number. This will make it easier for everyone to identify which polling station number is numbered along with Poll station details.
Kharkongor also discussed the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which is already in force as the dates are out, and will remain in force till the election get over.
“There have been a lot of questions as to from which date the MCC will be enforced because the date of notification is January 31st. But as per the rules of the ECI, the MCC will kick in right from the date of the announcement. So immediately after the elections have been duly announced by the election commission, the provisions of the MCC will kick in,” explained Kharkongor.
While MCC is enforced from the date of announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission and is operational till the process of elections is completed, the commission has also issued instructions for swift, effective and stringent action for enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct during the first 72 hours of the announcement of the election schedule and also for maintaining extra vigilance and strict enforcement action in the 72 hours before the close of polls.
The MCC covers various activities, including the defacement of property. There are three categories of defacement: government property, public property, and private property. District election officers are responsible for ensuring that government property is removed within 24 hours of the announcement of the election, public property within 48 hours, and private property within 72 hours.
Misuse of official vehicles is also prohibited under the MCC, with a total ban on their use by political party candidates or anyone connected to the election.
Additionally, advertisement at the cost of the public exchequer is prohibited. In terms of development and construction activities, ongoing work can continue, but no fresh work can start after the operation of the MCC.
The CEO will hold a video conference with all the Deputy Commissioners to share these provisions.
To ensure security, 120 companies have been assigned and 40 companies are already deployed.
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During an election, there are typically three types of observers: general observers, expenditure observers, and police observers. Expenditure observers will focus on districts that are designated as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies (ESC), which are 34 in total.
These constituencies are identified as areas where there may be a high potential for the use of money power during the election. Additionally, there are 399 critical polling stations and 747 vulnerable polling stations that will be closely monitored, with the potential for changes as the election progresses.
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