Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha (second from right) and other officers during the state level awareness workshop on Thursday Credit: EastMojo Image

Kohima: Ahead of the scheduled bye-election to two Assembly constituencies in Nagaland, the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Nagaland Abhijit Sinha sensitised the media on the process and guidelines to be followed by all candidates. This year due to the pandemic, there are additional safety protocols also in place.

The polling for bye-election to two Assembly constituencies in Nagaland will be held on November 3, as announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The two Assembly constituencies are 14-Southern Angami-1 and 60-Pungro Kiphire (ST) Assembly.

The maximum a candidate can spend in the Assembly constituencies of Nagaland is Rs 20 lakh. Candidates need to maintain separate and correct account of all expenditures incurred during the election; which are authorised by the candidate’s agent from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of the results.

Every contesting candidate is required to lodge an account of the election expenses with the District Election Officer (DEO) within a specified time limit. Failing to do so and providing no good reason or justification for the failure may result in disqualification for three years.

Sinha also highlighted about Section 171 B, 171 F, 171 H, and 171 I of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 which penalises bribery, punishment for undue influence or personation at an election, illegal payments, failure to keep election accounts, respectively.

Also Read: Nagaland: Bye-election poll for two Assembly seats on November 3

Additional CEO N Moa Aier stressed on the Media certification and monitoring committees (MCMC) that oversees the pre-certification of political advertisements on electronic media including social media, monitoring paid news cases and monitoring media violations cases during the election process.

In this regard, Sinha added that no such cases have been reported in the state so far. Although there are no specific legal provisions, Sinha said that certain actions can be taken against the violators. The election officers appealed the media houses operating in the state to abide by the election guidelines.

As per the availability of EVMs and VVPATs, there will be 64 (FLC ok) ballot unit, 53 control unit, 63 VVPAT for 14-Southern Angami-1 and 209 (FLC ok) ballot unit, 204 control unit, 206 VVPAT for 60-Pungro Kiphire (ST) Assembly.

Speaking about the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) Awa Lorin, deputy CEO said that the EVMs are stand-alone machines which cannot be hacked or tampered. He said that although EVMs may fail to function due to mechanical, structural or physical defect, it “never record wrong vote”.

Also Read: Former governor of Nagaland Ashwani Kumar dies by suicide

Election in times of COVID-19:

As per the ECI’s general guideline during the election processes for all persons, every person is required to wear a face mask during every election-related activity. Thermal scanning will be carried out at entry points and sanitizer, soap and water to be made available. Social distancing is to be maintained as per the COVID-19 guidelines of the state government and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

As reported earlier, nodal health officers are to be designated for the state, district and Assembly constituency to oversee COVID-19 related arrangements during the entire election process. The first and second randomization and preparation of EVMs/VVPATs are to be done in large halls.

The maximum number of electors in a polling station will be 1000 electors instead of 1500 electors. The option for postal ballot facility has been extended to electors who are marked as persons with disabilities (PwD), electors above 80 years, electors in notified essential services, and electors who are COVID-19 positive/suspect and are in quarantine (home/institutional).

ECI permits not more than seven counting tables in a counting hall. Display of results from the control units may be displayed on a large screen to avoid accommodation of a large number of counting agents. The counting centres are to be disinfected before, during and after the counting.

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