Election Commission

ANNOUNCEMENT OF SCHEDULE FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS TO LOK SABHA AND LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES OF ANDHRA PRADESH, ARUNACHAL PRADESH, ODISHA & SIKKIM, 2024

Posted On: 16 MAR 2024 5:54PM by PIB Delhi

The term of 17th Lok Sabha is due to expire on 16th June, 2024.  Article 324 of the Constitution of India bestows the relevant powers, duties and functions upon the Election Commission of India (hereinafter ECI), while Article 83(2) of the Constitution of India and Section 14 of the Representation of the People Act-1951 provides for the conduct of the elections to constitute a new Lok Sabha before the expiry of its current term. In view of this constitutional and legal provisions, the Election Commission of India has made comprehensive preparations for the conduct of elections to the 18th Lok Sabha in a free, fair, participative, accessible, inclusive, transparent and peaceful manner.

  1. Further, ECI is also to conduct election to the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim before the cessation of their terms, in exercise of the authority and powers conferred upon under Article 324 read with Article 172 (1) of the Constitution of India and Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  2. The term and strength along with seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of the Assembly Constituencies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim are as under:

Name of State

Term of Assembly

Total No. of AC Seats

Reserved for SCs

Reserved for STs

Andhra Pradesh

12th  June,2019 to 11th  June,2024

175

29

7

Arunachal Pradesh

3rd  June,2019 to

2nd  June,2024

60

-

59

Odisha

25th  June,2019 to 24th  June,2024

147

24

33

Sikkim

3rd  June,2019 to

2nd June,2024

32

2

-

 

  1. Elections to the world’s largest democracy pose immense challenges with respect to logistics and man/ woman and material management and the Commission’s endeavor in this direction has been to consult all stakeholders, invite inputs from all relevant departments/ organizations and evolve a coordinated framework for smooth delivery of yet another round of General Election.
  2. In the course of assessing various dimensions involved in holding elections to the 543 Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) and Assembly Election in 4 States, in particular, the parameters to be considered for their scheduling and phasing, the Election Commission of India has planned meticulously for each and every aspect of election much in advance to ensure that these elections are conducted in free, fair, participative, accessible, peaceful and inclusive manner.
  3. In the run-up to the General Election to Lok Sabha-2024 and Assembly Election in 4 States, the Commission organized a Conference of the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of all the States and Union Territories on 11th and 12th January, 2024 at New Delhi. All aspects of election preparedness were reviewed for each State/UT and relevant instructions were issued to the CEOs to ensure efficient conduct of the elections.
  4.  The Commission also organised 5 Regional Conferences at Chandigarh, Chennai, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Lucknow to review Poll preparedness, to find out any gaps and ways to fill them. These Regional conferences were headed by the Senior Officers of the Commission and were attended by the Chief Electoral officers and State Police Nodal Officers.
  5. The Commission has visited many States/UTs to review the poll preparedness and during the visit, the Commission interacted with political parties, enforcement agencies, all District Officers, SSPs/SPs, Divisional Commissioners, Range IGs, CS/DGPs and other senior officers of the States/UTs.
  6. The team of senior officers of the Commission visited various States to review law and order situation, to ascertain State/ UT specific areas of concern, to discuss the quantum of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) required in each State/ UT and to review the overall preparedness of the election machinery. The cooperation of all authorities was sought for conducting free, fair and peaceful elections across the country under the overall superintendence, direction and control of the Commission.
  7. The Commission has reviewed the ground situation of Manipur and has noted that a large number of electors registered in different constituencies of Manipur were displaced from their native places during recent conflicts. They are now residing in Relief Camps in various districts of Manipur. The Commission, after due consultation with various stake holders, has decided that special polling stations shall be set up at/near the camps where such electors, who opt for such facility, will be able to register their votes in EVMs. In this regard, a detail scheme for internally displaced persons of Manipur to vote in relief camps has been issued by the Commission on 29th February, 2024.
  8. The Kashmiri migrant electors registered in several parts of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly Kashmir region, were forced to leave their native places during late 1980s and early 1990s because of terrorist activities of extremists supported from across the Indian borders.  In view of this, the Commission, after consultation with the Central Government and the State Government came out with a scheme to enable these migrant electors to cast their vote from wherever they are residing in the country, by way of postal ballots since 1996 and voting in person at Special Polling Stations set up at Delhi, Udhampur and Jammu since 2002.

Government of India vide notification dated 9th August, 2019 has abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution of India and promulgated the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir would go for elections the very first time since its inception. In view of this, the Commission has decided to extend the earlier scheme, as it is, for Kashmiri migrant electors from the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

  1. The voting in these special polling stations shall be done in the similar manner as is done at normal polling station.  The CEOs/ DEOs have been asked to provide adequate logistics and proper security.  Special training has already been given to conduct poll at such polling stations.
  2. The conduct of General Elections in the entire country requires considerable deployment of Central and State Police Forces to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections with fearless participation of electors, especially in vulnerable areas/pockets. Mobilization, deployment and disengagement of these forces with minimum crisscross movement and optimal utilization involved complex planning and detailed analysis, carried out over several rounds of consultations with the senior officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs/ CAPFs/ Police Nodal Officers of the States/ UTs. The Commission also held discussions with the Union Home Secretary to highlight the areas of coordination for effective deployment of these forces.
  3. A meeting was also held with the Chairman, Railway Board and other senior officials of the Ministry of Railways in regard to the specific requirements of special trains including other logistics for smooth and timely movement of CAPF Companies and other police forces across States/ UTs, including their intra-State shifting during the election period. Indian Railways has been directed to mobilise rolling stocks with appropriate facilities, ensure timely movement, ensure cleanliness and organize quality food for the forces on move.
  4. Keeping in view the interests of the students and also the fact that Polling Stations are mostly located in school buildings and teachers are engaged as polling personnel, the Commission has consciously factored-in the examination schedules of Central Board of Secondary Education and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education in the process of finalizing the poll dates. In addition to this, other relevant factors like various holidays and festivals falling in the months of March, April and May, harvest season in certain parts of the country and the inputs obtained from the Indian Meteorological Department on weather conditions have also been taken into consideration. Thus, while deciding on the number of poll days for each State/ UT and the composition of the PCs that go to polls on a particular poll day, the Commission has, to the extent possible, taken all relevant aspects and information related thereto into consideration.
  5. The Commission has updated/consolidated its documents issued vide Manual / Handbook/ Checklist/ Compendium/ Instructions/ Guidelines and has uploaded on the Commission’s website on https://eci.gov.in. These latest documents shall be used in conduct of upcoming elections.
  6. A. DELIMITATION OF PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES:
  1. The General Election to the House of People-2024 to constitute the 18th Lok Sabha shall be held on the basis of the extent of Parliamentary Constituencies as contained in the “Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order-2008” except the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the State of Assam.   In the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, the General Election to the House of People-2024 shall be held on the basis of the extent of Parliamentary Constituencies as contained in “Delimitation Commission’s Order No. 2 vide Notification dated 5th May, 2022. In the State of Assam, the General Election to the House of People-2024 shall be held on the basis of the extent of Parliamentary Constituencies as contained in “Election Commission’s Order No. 2 vide Notification dated 11th August, 2023 and Corrigendum dated 1st November, 2023”. Therefore, there is no change in the extent and the status of any Parliamentary Constituency after the General Election to Lok Sabha-2009 in the States/UTs except the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the State of Assam.
  2. Besides, the total number of Parliamentary Constituencies allotted to various States/UTs including SC/ST seats except UT of Jammu & Kashmir also continued to be the same.  As per the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act-2019, the UT of Jammu & Kashmir was allotted a total of 5 (five) Parliamentary Seats and the UT of Ladakh was allotted 1(one) Parliamentary seat.
  3. Section 6 of the “The Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Act-2019 dated 9th December, 2019” provides that “On and from the appointed day, there shall be allocated two seats to the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu in the House of People and the First Schedule to the Representation of People Act, 1950 shall be deemed to be amended accordingly”. Therefore, the General Election to the House of People-2024 for Union Territory of  Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu shall also be held on the basis of the extent of Parliamentary Constituencies as contained in the “Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order-2008”.

 B. DELIMITATION OF ASSEMBLY CONSTITUENCIES:

i)     General Elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim shall be held on the basis of the extent of Assembly Constituencies as contained in the said Delimitation Order-2008.  The total number of ACs allotted to these States, including SC/ST seats, shall also continue to be the same.

(ii)  As per “Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act-2014(No.6 of 2014)” dated 1st March, 2014 & “Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Removal of Difficulties) Order-2015” dated 23rd April, 2015 and subsequently Commission’s Notification No.282/AP/2018(DEL) dated 22nd September, 2018, the total number of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies assigned in respect of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States shall be as under: -

S. No.

State

Parliamentary Constituencies

Assembly Constituencies

Total

SC

ST

Total

SC

ST

1

Andhra Pradesh

25

4

1

175

29

7

2

Telangana

17

3

2

119

19

12

 

  1. TRAINING OF ELECTION OFFICIALS:
  1. General Elections to Lok Sabha in India is considered to be the biggest man management exercise in the world. It involves a mammoth task to mobilize election machinery of more than 12 million officials for this exercise.
  2. Training of these officials thus becomes essential for flawless conduct of elections. Training of such a magnitude can be completed in a cascaded manner whereby master trainers are prepared and they in turn train the participants. India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) was established by the Election Commission of India in June 2011 to fulfill this important task of training of election officials from India and abroad. IIIDEM has since been working to achieve its objectives.
  3. For General Elections to Lok Sabha and simultaneous Assembly Election in 4 States, IIIDEM has trained 237 National Level Master Trainers (NLMTs) and 1804 State Level Master Trainers (SLMTs), who have been training the Assembly Level Trainers (ALTs), District Level Master Trainers (DLMTs) and other officials of Election Machinery in cascading manner.
  4. IIIDEM has organized the following programs to train the important election functionaries:
  1. Certification Program for District Election Officers (DEOs) and Returning Officers (ROs) for General Elections to Lok Sabha 2024: An in-depth training program of 2 days per batch was organised for all District Election Officers (DEOs) and Returning Officers from all States/ UTs at IIIDEM. 16 batches comprising of DEOs/ROs of all States/UTs was organized from 5th to 29th Dec 2023, wherein 837 officers have been trained in all the aspects of elections.
  2. Certification Program for Assistant Returning Officers (for Parliamentary Constituencies) of all States/UTs at State ATIs: IIIDEM has conducted 5 days certification programme for AROs (of PC) of all States/UTs at State ATIs wherein about 5000 AROs (in around 130 batches) were trained at all States/UTs from 27th November 2023 to 2nd March 2024.
  3. Certification Program for Returning Officers/Assistant Returning Officers of 4 States having simultaneous elections at State ATIs: IIIDEM has conducted 5 days certification programme for about 1100 ROs/AROs (of AC) of 4 States i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh having simultaneous elections.
  4. Training of EROs at IIIDEM/State ATI: IIIDEM has conducted One-day online training for EROs of all States/UTs in the months of Oct-Nov,2023 in 12 batches. A total of 3100 EROs participated in the training programme.
  1. SYSTEMATIC VOTERS’ EDUCATION AND ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION (SVEEP)-

SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) is a comprehensive programme aimed at reinforcing voter education and promoting active participation in India's democratic process. The need for SVEEP arises from the Election Commission of India's unwavering commitment to ensuring the participation of every voter in this monumental celebration of democracy.

SVEEP employs a combination of general and targeted interventions, carefully tailored to align with the socioeconomic, cultural, and demographic characteristics of each state. SVEEP addresses not only the registration gaps but also more glaring issues such as voter apathy, behavioural patterns, and the reasons behind such apathy in different elections.

For enhancing electoral participation, the Commission has directed to take following initiatives:

  1. Low Voter Turnout (LVT) analysis: CEOs/ DEOs have been directed to identify low voter turnout PSs/ ACs/ PCs and take targeted initiatives to address specific gaps.

 

  1. Identification of district specific themes of PS:

As the PS is the basic unit of election machinery, it has been directed to focus on district wise PSs for targeted interventions reaching out various groups like women, PWD, Transgender, PVTGs, etc. Model Polling stations to be set up keeping in view the NVD theme.

  1. Turnout Implementation Plan (TIP): With a strategic focus on increasing voter participation and engagement, the TIP delineates strategies at the Assembly Constituency level to address low voter turnout and enhance overall participation in the upcoming elections. By adopting a targeted approach at the grassroots level, TIP aims to amplify democratic participation and ensure that every eligible voter exercises their right to vote.
  2. Focus on urban and youth apathy: ECI has been addressing the pressing issue of urban and youth apathy in elections. The voting percentage in General Election to Lok Sabha – 2019 was 67.4%, for which the Commission has taken as a challenge to improve upon, just like its mission of “No Voter to be Left Behind”.
  3. Election Commission has captured election festivities under its umbrella theme “Chunav ka Parv, Desh ka Garv” (Elections: The Biggest Festival and Pride of the Nation). The overarching theme of this campaign depicts elections as the biggest festival of democracy, the pride of an individual and the country.
  4. Targeted campaign such as #MeraPhelaVoteDeshkeLiye is also launched to encourage first-time voters to participate in the electoral process.
  5. SVEEP is also leveraging the celebrities and influencers’ reach in disseminating voter awareness, another such effort is a production of short film “My Vote,  My Duty”. 
  6. Partnership and collaboration: ECI has collaborated with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of railways, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas,  the Department of Posts, the Indian Banking Association, etc. to expand its voter outreach and awareness efforts. Through these organisations, SVEEP aims to enhance electoral literacy among youth and increase voter engagement across the country.
  7. Engagement of National Icon: To bridge the gap between citizens, especially youth and urban population, ECI appointed Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar and actor Rajkumar Rao as ‘National Icons’. This collaboration marks a significant step towards leveraging their impact and popularity to increase voters’ participation in the forthcoming General Elections 2024.
  8. Engagement and Utilisation of local Icons:

The States have been directed to identify and engage local influential personalities as Election Icons. This would not only add value to the message of voter awareness as well as increase the general outreach in the specific region.

  1. SVEEP is using tools like social media to increase voter turnout and make the electoral process more inclusive and accessible. Promoting online portals and mobile apps to empower citizens with knowledge about their electoral rights and simplify online electoral services.

SVEEP plays a crucial role in promoting voter awareness and participation, emphasising the importance of democratic engagement in building a stronger and more inclusive society. As the Election Commission prepares for the General Elections of 2024, it remains committed to empowering citizens and strengthening democracy through its SVEEP initiatives.

  1. DISTRICT, AC LEVEL AND BOOTH LEVEL ELECTION MANAGEMENT PLAN:

The District Election Officers have been asked to prepare a comprehensive District Election Management Plan in consultation with SSPs/SPs and Sector Officers, including the route plan and the communication plan for conduct of elections. These will be vetted by the Observer, taking into account vulnerability mapping exercise and mapping of critical polling stations, in accordance with Election Commission of India’s extant instructions.

 

  1. COMMUNICATION PLAN:

Commission attaches great importance to preparation and implementation of a perfect communication plan at the district/constituency level for the smooth conduct of elections and to enable concurrent intervention and mid-course correction on the poll day. For the said purpose, the Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officers of all the States/UTs to coordinate with the officers of Department of Telecommunication in the State headquarter, BSNL authorities, the representatives of other leading telecom service providers in the State so that network status in the State is assessed and communication shadow areas be identified. The CEOs have also been instructed to prepare the best communication plan in their States and make suitable alternate arrangements in the communication shadow areas by providing Satellite Phones, Wireless sets, Special Runners etc.

Further, the Commission has also directed to improve the condition of connecting roads for smooth movement of polling parties, security forces, voters and other election machineries.  In case of water ways, proper arrangements of boats/ferries etc. is to be ensured during election.

  1. INTEGRATED CONTROL ROOMS AT DIFFERENT LEVEL:

The Commission has directed to set up Integrated Control Rooms at State Level and District Level for monitoring of election related activities and ensuring co-ordination among various agencies during election for smooth conduct of free and fair election. These control room shall be equipped with all required technical support under responsible officers to monitor, communicate and manage various election related activities efficiently.  These control rooms have effective communication equipment, contact numbers of all election related offices/officers for coordinating activities and responding to incidents.  These integrated control room shall serve as a nerve center for efficient monitoring, control and management of different activities of elections, helping election authorities.

 

  1. NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON INCLUSIVE ELECTIONS (NACIE):

Election Commission of India’s endeavour has been to promote equity and ensure quality of the electoral system with the objective of upholding democratic values and principles.  Action oriented plans are being executed at the State and District level across the country, to ensure inclusive elections in letter and spirit, however, to have a focused and scaled up approach in the context of General Elections 2024, the Commission has formed a National Advisory Committee on inclusive Elections (NACIE). The focus of the Committee has been to identify various marginalized communities such as transgenders, PVTGs, homeless people/nomadic groups, sex workers, women in difficult circumstances, etc., and ensure their electoral participation.

  1. ELECTORAL ROLLS:

 

  1. Commission firmly believes that pure and updated electoral rolls are the foundation of free, fair and credible elections. Hence, intensive and sustained focus is placed upon improving its quality, health and fidelity. After the amendment in Section 14 of the Representation of the People Act-1950 by the Election Laws (Amendment) Act-2021, there is a provision of four qualifying dates to enroll as a voter in a year. Accordingly, the Commission conducted the Special Summary Revision of Electoral Roll with reference to 1st January, 2024, as the qualifying date, wherein applications were invited from eligible citizens seeking registration in electoral roll with respect to 1st January, 2024 as the qualifying date. After time-bound completion of Special Summary Revision of Electoral Rolls with reference to 1st January, 2024 as the qualifying date, the final publication of the electoral roll has been done as per following timeline –

Sl. No.

Name of States/UTs

Number of States/UTs

Date for Final Publication of Electoral Roll

1

Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Odisha, Sikkim, Tripura, A&N Island, Chandigarh, D&D-D&N Haveli, Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry

14

5th January, 2024

2

Nagaland

1

10th January, 2024

3

Andhra Pradesh, Bihar Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir & NCT of Delhi

13

22nd January, 2024

4

Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra

2

23rd January, 2024

5

Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana

6

8th February, 2024

 

However, the process of continuous updation of electoral rolls will continue till the last date of filing nominations, with respect to proximate qualifying date.

  1. The total electorate in the country as per finally published Electoral rolls with reference to 01.01.2024 as the qualifying date is 968.8 million compared to 896 million in 2019. This marks an increase of more than 72.8 million electors. Over 18.4 million electors are in 18-19 years age group. Electors in the age group of 18-19 years constitute 1.89% of total electors. The number of electors enrolled as "Third Gender" (written as TG) is 48,044. Parliament amended the Representation of the People Act, 1950, allowing enrollment of Indian citizens living overseas as electors. 1,18,439 overseas electors have been enrolled in the current electoral rolls. There are 19,08,194 service electors in the electoral rolls. There is a total of 88,35,449 PwD all over the country in which there exist 52,65,076 male PwD electors, 35,69,933 female PwD electors and 440 Third Gender PwD electors. As on 10th March, 2024, there is a total of 81,87,999 Senior Citizen electors above 85 years and 2,18,442 electors above 100 years.
  2. The Commission, in order to maximize participation from all strata of society and improve the health of the electoral roll has taken all possible efforts to:
  1. Ensure maximum enrolment of vulnerable groups like PwDs, Third Gender and sex workers by collaborating with reputed CSOs. For example, engage with NACO (National AIDS control organisation) to ensure maximum enrolment of sex workers.
  2. Remove logical errors, demographically similar entries, and photo-similar entries in the electoral roll after following proper field verification and statutory processes.
  3. Focus on the enrolment of young voters especially who attained the qualifying age i.e. 18 years on 1st January, 2024 & 1st April, 2024.
  4. Rationalize Polling Stations with due diligence. Each and every polling station has been physically visited by senior officers, and shifting of polling stations to new and better infrastructure buildings has also been considered after following due procedures.
  5. Other Government database like database of Social Welfare Department, SACO etc. for vulnerable groups of citizens, as benchmark, were considered for enhanced registration of these group.
  6. The Commission enforces the Assured Minimum Facilities along with accessibility friendly infrastructure for PWDs and senior citizens in the polling stations, CEOs/DEOs have been directed to create permanent infrastructure such as ramps at the polling stations.
  7. Polling Station Locations with three or more Polling Stations have been planned for separate entry and exit so as to avoid any untoward incidents related to any or public order.
  8. The Commission has encouraged the DEOs to use eco-friendly materials and exhibit local culture and art to create Model Polling Stations. Each District should have at least one such Model Polling Station, as far as possible.
  9. List of 85+, PwDs etc. has been prepared and a communication of respect/recognition has also been sent to make them feel important parts of society.

 

  1. PHOTO ELECTORAL ROLLS AND ELECTOR PHOTO IDENTITY CARDS (EPIC):

Photo Electoral Rolls will be used during the General Elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim. EPIC is one of the documents for establishing the identity of the elector at the time of voting. All out efforts are being made to ensure 100% delivery of EPIC to all newly registered electors.

  1. VOTER INFORMATION SLIPS (VIS):

 To facilitate voters in knowing the serial number of electoral roll in their polling station, date of poll, time etc., ‘Voter Information Slip’ will be issued. Voter Information Slip will include information like Polling Station, Date, Time etc. with QR code but not the photograph of the voter. Voter Information Slips will be distributed at least 5 days before the date of poll to all enrolled electors, by the District Election Officer. However, Voter Information Slip will not be allowed as proof of the identity of voters.

  1. BRAILLE VOTER INFORMATION SLIPs:

To ensure ease of participation and active engagement of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process, the Commission has directed to issue Accessible Voter Information Slips with Braille Features to Persons with Visual Impairment, along with normal Voter Information Slips.

  1. VOTER GUIDE:

As done in the last elections, a Voter Guide (in Hindi/English/Local Language) shall be provided to every elector’s household ahead of elections, giving them information about the date and time of the poll, contact details of the BLOs, important websites, helpline numbers, documents required for identification at the polling station besides other important information including the Do’s and Don’ts for voters at the polling station. This Voter Guide Brochure will be distributed along with Voter Information Slips by the BLOs.

  1. MEASURES TO PREVENT IMPERSONATION:

BLOs have done door to door survey and prepared a list of voters found absent from the place of their ordinary residence. Similarly, names of shifted and dead voters, whose names could not be deleted, shall also be added to this list by BLOs. This list of Absent, Shifted or Dead (ASD) voters shall be given to the Presiding Officers on the poll day. Commission has issued instructions that voting will be allowed only after proper identification of voters. Identification shall be done on the basis of EPIC or other alternative identity documents permitted by the Commission. Presiding Officers are required to double check the identity of voters whose names are on the ASD list.

  1. IDENTIFICATION OF VOTERs AT POLLING STATIONs:

For identification of voters at Polling Station, the Voter shall present his EPIC or any of the following identification documents as approved by the Commission: -

  1.   Aadhaar Card,

ii.            MGNREGA Job Card,

iii.          Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office,

iv.           Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of the               Ministry of Labour,

v.            Driving License,

vi.           PAN Card,

vii.         Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR,

viii.        Indian Passport,

ix.           Pension document with photograph,

x.            Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by                  Central/State Govt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies,

xi.           Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs and

xii.         Unique Disability ID (UDID) Card, issued by M/o Social                                         Justice & Empowerment, Government of India.

  1. POLLING STATIONS AND SPECIAL FACILITATION-
  1. Maximum No. of electors in Polling Station

There shall be a maximum of 1500 electors in a polling station. There is 1.19% increase in the number of Polling Stations in the States/UTs as compared with the Number of Polling Stations in 2019.  The total number of polling station countrywide is 10,48,202.

  1. Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) at Polling Stations:

The Commission has issued instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers of all States/UTs to ensure that every Polling Station needs to be on the ground floor and, shall have accessible road in good condition leading to the polling station building and is equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMFs) like drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, ramp of proper gradient for the PwD electors and a standard voting compartment etc. The Commission has directed CEO/DEOs to take efforts to make permanent ramp and permanent infrastructure at every polling station.

  1. Accessible Election-Facilitation for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and Senior Citizens:       
  1. All polling stations are located on the ground floor, and ramps with proper gradients are provided for the convenience of differently abled electors and senior citizens with wheelchairs.
  2. Further, in order to provide targeted and need-based facilitation to PwDs voters and Senior Citizens, the Commission has directed that all persons with disabilities and senior citizens in an Assembly Constituency are identified and tagged to their respective Polling Stations and necessary disability-specific arrangements made for their smooth and convenient voting experience on poll day.
  3. Identified PwD and senior citizens electors will be assisted by volunteers appointed by RO/DEO. Special facilitation will be made for PwD and senior citizens electors at Polling Stations.
  4. Also, it has been directed that persons with disability electors & senior citizens are given priority for entering polling booths.
  5. Provision be made for designated parking spaces close to the entrance of polling station premise and special facilitation extended to electors with speech and hearing impairment. Special focus has been laid on sensitization of polling personnel regarding special needs of the differently abled electors.
  6. The Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) that there should be proper transport facilities for PwD and senior citizens electors in each and every polling station on the day of poll. The PwD electors can request for a wheelchair facility by registering on Saksham- ECI App.
  7. At the Polling Station, visually impaired persons can take a companion along with him/her to cast his/her vote on his/her behalf as provided in Rule 49 N of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
  8. Besides, Dummy Ballot Sheets in Braille are available at Polling Stations, any visually impaired persons can use this sheet and, after studying content of this sheet can cast his/her vote on his/her own using Braille facility on Ballot Units of EVMs without any help from companion.
  1. Voter Facilitation Posters:

In order to fulfil the statutory requirements under Rule 31 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 and to provide accurate and relevant information for voter awareness and information at each polling station, the Commission has also directed that uniform and standardized Voter Facilitation Posters (VFP) [total of FOUR (4) kind of Posters] i.e.          

        1. Polling Station Details,

        2. List of Candidates,

        3. Do’s and Don’ts and

        4.  Approved Identification Documents & How to Vote

 shall be prominently displayed at all Polling Stations.

  1. Voter Assistance Booths (VAB):
  1. Voter Assistance Booths shall be set up for every polling station location, having a team of BLO/officials in order to assist voters to correctly locating her/his polling booth number and serial number in the electoral roll of that concerned polling booth. The VABs will be set up with prominent signage and in such a manner that it will be conspicuous to the voters as they approach the polling premise/building to enable them to seek required facilitation on poll day.
  2. The alphabetic locator (as per the English alphabet) generated with ERO Net is placed at VAB to search the name easily and to know the serial number in the Electoral Roll.
  1. Standardised Voting Compartment to ensure Secrecy of Voting:
  1. In order to maintain the secrecy of the vote at the time of the poll and to achieve uniformity in the use of voting compartments, the Commission instructed that the height of the Voting Compartments should be 30 inches and the Voting Compartment should be placed on a table whose height shall be 30 inches. Only corrugated plastic sheet (flex board) of steel-grey colour, which is completely opaque and reusable, shall be used to make the voting compartments. The Commission hopes that the use of these standardized and uniform Voting Compartments in all the polling stations will translate into greater voter facilitation, ensure absolute secrecy of vote and eliminate aberrations and non-uniformity in the preparation of Voting Compartment inside the polling stations.
  2. The voting compartments shall also be pasted with self-adhesive stickers on three sides of the voting compartment depicting name of election, Name of State/UT, AC/PC Number & name, date of poll, P S number and Name etc.
  1. FACILITIES FOR PwD VOTERS, 85+ SENIOR CITIZENS, ELECTORS EMPLOYED IN ESSENTIAL SERVICES AND COVID SUSPECT/AFFECTED VOTERS:
  1. Rule 27A of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 has been amended to provide the optional postal ballot facility to “Absentee Voters”. “Absentee Voter” has been defined in clause (aa) of Rule-27A of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, and includes person who is employed in essential services[AVES], senior citizens (above 85 year of age)[AVSC], Persons with Disability (with benchmark or above disability)[AVCO] and COVID 19 suspect or affected persons[AVCO]. The category of essential services is notified by the Election Commission under Section 60(C) of the R.P. Act, 1951 in consultation with the Government.

The following procedures have also been made in the existing Guidelines for Voting through postal ballot by Absentee Voters in the category of Senior Citizens, PwDs and Covid-19 suspect or affected persons: -

  1.  An Absentee Voter wishing to vote by Postal Ballot has to make application to the Returning Officer (RO) of the constituency concerned, in Form-12D, giving all requisite particulars. Such applications seeking postal ballot facility should reach the RO during the period from date of announcement of election to five days following the date of notification of the election concerned.
  2. In case of absentee voters belonging to PwD category (AVPD), who opt for postal ballot, application (Form 12D) should be accompanied by a copy of benchmark disability certificate specified by the concerned appropriate Government, under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
  3. Distribution of Form 12D by BLO:
  1. BLO will visit the houses of the absentee voters in category of AVSC, AVPD and AVCO, as per details provided by the RO, in the Polling Station area and deliver Form 12D to the concerned electors and obtain acknowledgements from them.
  2. If an elector is not available, BLO shall share his/her contact details and revisit to collect it within five days of the notification.
  3. The elector may or may not opt for Postal Ballot. If he/she opts for Postal Ballot, then the BLO will collect the filled-in-Form 12D from the house of the elector within five days of the notification and deposit with the RO forthwith.
  4. Sector Officer shall supervise the process of distribution and collection of Form 12D by BLOs under the overall supervision of RO.
  1. Further, the RO shall share list of all such AVSC, AVPD and AVCO, whose applications in Form 12D for availing Postal Ballot facility have been approved by him, with the Contesting Candidates of recognized political parties in printed hardcopy.
  1. A polling team comprising of 2 polling officials out of which at least one should be not below the rank/level of the official appointed as polling officer for polling station and one micro observer along with a videographer and security will then go to the elector’s address along with a Voting Compartment and get the elector to vote on the Postal Ballot maintaining complete secrecy of vote. Candidates will be provided a list of these electors in advance and will also be provided the schedule of voting and the route chart of the polling parties so that they can send their representatives to witness the polling procedure. Postal Ballots will then be stored securely by the Returning Officer.
  2. This is an optional facility and does not involve any Postal Department for mailing arrangement.
  3. Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officers of all States/UTs to take necessary steps to disseminate information and extend facilitation to the above categories of Voters, if they exercise their choice to do so.
  1. MODEL POLLING STATION AND POLLING STATIONS MANAGED BY WOMEN, PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES -

As part of its firm commitment towards gender equality and greater constructive participation of women in the electoral process, the Commission has also directed that, to the extent possible, at least one polling station each managed exclusively by women and Persons with Disabilities shall be set up in every Constituency in all poll going States/UTs. In such women managed Polling Stations, all election staff, including police and security personnel, will be women. A minimum one Model Polling Station per Constituency shall also be set up using and depicting local materials and art forms.

  1. NOMINATION PROCESS:

        Brief description about filing of nomination are as given below:

  1. Additional option to facilitate online mode in nomination has been provided:
  1. Nomination form will also be available online on the website of CEOs/DEOs. Any intending candidate may fill it online and its print may be taken for submission before the Returning Officer after duly signing by him/her & required no. of proposers and pasting photograph on it as specified in Form-1 (Rule-3 of Conduct of Election Rules 1961).
  2. Affidavit may also be filled online on the website of CEOs/DEOs, its print can be taken and after putting signature of the deponent and notarization it may be submitted along with the nomination form before the Returning Officer.
  3. Candidate may deposit security money through online mode at the designated platform. However, a candidate will continue to have the option of deposit in cash in the treasury.
  4. Candidate may also exercise the option to seek his/her elector certification for the purpose of nomination online.
  1. Further, Commission has directed the following:
  1. Returning Officer’s chamber should have sufficient space to perform the functions of nomination, scrutiny and symbol allocation.
  2. Returning Officer should allot staggered time in advance to prospective candidates.
  3. All steps required to be taken for the submission of nomination form and affidavit shall continue to operate as per the provisions contained in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  1. AFFIDAVITS OF CANDIDATES:
  1. All Columns to be filled in:

        In pursuance of the judgment dated 13th September, 2013 passed by the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (C) No. 121 of 2008 (Resurgence India Vs Election Commission of India and Another), which among other things makes it obligatory for the Returning Officer “to check whether the information required is fully furnished (by the candidate) at the time of filing of affidavit with the nomination paper”, the Commission has issued instructions that in the affidavit to be filed along with the nomination paper, candidates are required to fill up all the columns. If any column in the affidavit is left blank, the Returning Officer will issue a notice to the candidate to file the revised affidavit with all columns duly filled in. After such notice, if a candidate still fails to file affidavit complete in all respects, the nomination paper will be liable to be rejected by the Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny.

  1. Changes in the Format of Nomination Form and Affidavit in Form 26:

        Vide Notifications dated 16th September, 2016, 7th April, 2017 and 26th February, 2019, Nomination Forms 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G & 2H have been amended. Affidavit in Form 26 has also been amended vide Notification dated 26th February, 2019 making provisions of

  1. Mandatory disclosure of 'PAN' for candidates who have been allotted the number or to state clearly that 'No PAN allotted' for those candidates without a PAN;
  2.  Details of total income as declared in the Income Tax return filed in the last 5 years to be declared for candidate, spouse and HUF; and dependents;
  3.  Details to be provided of Assets (movable/immovable) held abroad including beneficial interest in any offshore entity/trust by self, spouse, HUF or Dependents. Copy of amended Nomination Forms and Affidavit are available on the Commission’s website https://eci.gov.in> Menu > Candidate nomination & other Forms.
  4.  
  1. CANDIDATES WITH CRIMINAL CASES:
  1. Candidates with criminal antecedents are required to publish information in this regard in newspapers and through television channels on three occasions during the campaign period. A political party that sets up candidates with criminal antecedents is also required to publish information about criminal background of its candidates, both on its website and also in newspapers and television channels on three occasions.
  2. Commission vide its letter No. 3/4/2019/SDR/Vol.IV dated 16th September, 2020 has directed that the period specified will be decided with three blocks in the following manner, so that electors have sufficient time to know about the background of such candidates:

(a)            Within first 4 days of date of withdrawal of Nominations.

(b)            Between next 5th- 8thdays.

(c)            From 9th day till the last day of campaign (the second day prior to date of poll).

(Illustration: If the last date for withdrawal is 10th of the month and poll is on 24th of the Month, the first block for publishing of declaration shall be done between 11th and 14th of the Month, second and third blocks shall be between 15th and 18th and 19th and 22nd of that Month, respectively.)

  1. This requirement is in pursuance of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition(C) No. 784 of 2015 (Lok Prahari Vs. Union of India & Others) and Writ Petition(Civil) No. 536 of 2011 (Public Interest Foundation & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Anr).
  1. POLITICAL PARTIES SETTING UP CANDIDATES WITH CRIMINAL CASES:
  1. In pursuance of the Hon'ble Supreme Court Order dated 13th February, 2020 in Contempt Petition (C)No. 2192 of 2018 in WP(C) No. 536 of 2011, it is mandatory for political parties (at the Central and State election level) to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases (including the nature of the offences, and relevant particulars such as whether charges have been framed, the concerned Court, the case number etc.) who have been selected as candidates, along with the reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates. The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned, and not mere "winnability" at the polls.
  2. This information shall also be published in:
  1. One local vernacular newspaper and one national newspaper;
  2. On the official social media platforms of the political party, including Facebook & Twitter.
  1. These details shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate and not prior to two weeks before the first date of filing of nominations. The political party concerned shall then submit a report of compliance with these directions with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate. If a political party fails to submit such compliance report with the Election Commission, the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of this Court's orders/directions. The Commission’s instructions issued vide letter no. 3/4/2020/SDR/Vol.III dated 6th March, 2020 available on the Commission’s website may be seen.
  2. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Brajesh Singh v. Sunil Arora & Ors. [Contempt Petition (C) No. 656/2020 in Contempt Petition (C) No. 2192/2018 in WP(C) No. 536/2011)] issued some additional directions vide judgment dated 10.08.2021, which has been circulated vide Commission’s letter No. 3/4/SDR/VOL.I dated 26.08.2021, which is available on the Commission’s website. Following are the directions which are concerned with the political parties: -
  1. Political parties are to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites, thus making it easier for the voter to get to the information that has to be supplied. It will also become necessary now to have on the homepage a caption which “candidates with criminal antecedents”;
  2. We clarify that the direction in paragraph 4.4 of our Order dated 13.02.2020 be modified and it is clarified that the details which are required to be published, shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate and not prior to two weeks before the first date of filing of nominations; and
  3. We reiterate that if such a political party fails to submit such compliance report with the ECI, the ECI shall bring such noncompliance by the political party to the notice of this Court as being in contempt of this Court’s Orders/directions, which shall in future be viewed very seriously.
  1. ECO-FRIENDLY ELECTIONS:

        Election Commission has issued advisories on several occasions urging political parties and candidates to use only environment-friendly material and to avoid single-use plastic and non-biodegradable material in their election campaign activities. Protecting the environment is not an individual task but a collective responsibility and hence the Commission urges all the political parties to avoid the use of plastic/polythene and similar non-biodegradable materials for preparation of posters, banners, etc. during election campaign in the interest of environment and human health. In this connection, on 18th August, 2023, Commission has issued a compiled instruction to all CEOs and political parties to make our elections eco-friendly.

        Further, NGT has also asked all concerned for close monitoring of Election Commission of India’s instructions in this regard.

  1. PROHIBITION OF CHILD LABOUR:

As per Section 3(1) of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 as amended vide the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, no child shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or process.   The Commission has also taken strong exception to use of children in any way in election related work, instruction has been issued in this regard on 5th February, 2024.

  1. MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT:
  1. Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately from the announcement of schedule. All the provisions of the Model Code will apply to all States/UTs with regard to all candidates, political parties and the government of the said States. The provisions of Model Code of Conduct shall also be applicable to the Union Government.
  2. The Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of MCC Guidelines. Any violation of these Guidelines would be strictly dealt with and the Commission re- emphasizes that the instructions issued in this regard from time to time should be read and understood by all political parties, contesting candidates and their agents/representatives, to avoid any misgivings or lack of information or inadequate understanding/interpretation. The Governments of all States/UTs have also been directed to ensure that no misuse of official machinery/position is done during the MCC period.
  3. The Commission has also issued instructions for swift, effective and stringent action for enforcement of Model Code of Conduct during the first 72 hours of announcement of the election schedule and also for maintaining extra vigilance and strict enforcement action in the last 72 hours prior to the close of polls. These instructions have been issued in the form of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for compliance by the field election machinery.
  1. VIDEOGRAPHY/ WEBCASTING/CCTV COVERAGE:

To conduct free, fair, inclusive and transparent election, in polling stations, where CAPF is not deployed due to non-availability or otherwise, one or more of the following civil (non-force) measures are kept to watch the polling process:

  1. Micro Observer
  2. Video Camera
  3. CCTV
  4. Webcasting

        The videography will be done during filing of nomination papers and scrutiny thereof, allotment of symbols, First Level Checking, preparations and storage of Electronic Voting Machines, important public meetings, processions etc. during election campaign, process of dispatching of postal ballot papers, polling process in identified vulnerable polling stations, storage of polled EVMs and VVPATs, counting of votes etc. The videographer shall record events like any attempts of intimidation of voters, attempts of inducement/ bribing of voters, canvassing within 100 meters of Polling Stations, Positioning of voting compartment, Mock Poll, Sealing of EVMs and VVPATs, Voters in queues, length of queue at the time fixed for close of poll, Any dispute of any nature at the Polling Station etc.

CCTV coverage is provided for the poll processes happening inside rooms/halls like nomination, scrutiny, withdrawal, symbol allotment, EVM/VVPAT related processes, Border Check Posts and Static Check Points for effective monitoring and surveillance etc.

        Minimum 50% webcasting of total polling stations and all critical polling stations and all polling stations in vulnerable areas whichever is higher shall be done during the poll. Such live stream data of webcasting on poll day shall be monitored at Integrated Control Rooms of Chief Electoral Officer and District Election Officer.

        Video/CCTV coverage shall be also be ensured at every stage of counting. This coverage shall include the randomization process for counting personnel, opening of Strong Rooms, transfer of CUs from Strong Room to Counting Hall,  Counting Hall arrangements, process of counting and tabulation counters, checking of two CUs per round  by the Observers, security arrangements in and outside the Counting Hall/Centre, presence of candidates and their agents, declaration of results, handing over of Certificate of Return of Election, placing VVPAT slips in black envelopes and sealing of EVM/VVPATs after counting and any other significant events of the counting process.

  1. MEASURES TO PREVENT PUBLIC NUISANCE:
  1. The Commission has directed that the use of public address system or loudspeakers or any sound amplifier, whether fitted on vehicles of any kind whatsoever, or in static position used for public meetings for electioneering purposes, during the entire election period starting from the date of announcement of election and ending with the date of declaration of results, shall not be permitted at night between 10:00 PM to 06:00 AM.
  2. No loudspeakers fitted on vehicles of any kind or in any other manner whatsoever shall be permitted to be used during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll in any polling area.
  1. POLITICAL PARTIES:

Political Parties, after our electors, are one of the most significant stakeholders in the electoral process. We have multi-party democracy and the Commission takes special efforts in ensuring that the group, which intends to form a political party under the Representation of the people Act-1951, are facilitated for the process of registration following the due process timely. As on 05.03.2024, 2798 (including recognized) Political Parties are registered with the Commission. 

 

  1. SYMBOLS:

From first election onwards, the Commission has devised a unique method of identification of Political Parties and Candidates through specific symbols. Now, this is allocated in accordance with Symbol Order-1968, issued by the Commission under article 324 of the Constitution of India. As on date we have 6 (six) Recognized National Parties and 58 Recognized State Political Parties which are already having ear-marked symbols. As on 05.03.2024 common symbols have been allotted to 58 registered but unrecognized Political Parties for the General election to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim- 2024.

  1. ADVISORY TO POLITICAL PARTIES REGARDING SILENCE PERIOD:
  1. For reviewing the working of Section 126 in the context of advancements in communication technology and rise of social media, a Committee was constituted by the Commission with the mandate of studying the provisions of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and other related provisions and to make suitable recommendation in this regard. The Committee submitted its report to the Commission on 10th January, 2019. Among other proposals, the Committee has proposed for an advisory to political parties for compliance with the letter and spirit of the provisions of Section 126. The Commission called upon all political parties to instruct and brief their leaders and campaigners to ensure that they observe the silence period on all forms of media as envisaged under Section 126 of the R.P. Act, 1951, and their leaders and cadres do not commit any act that may violate the spirit of Section 126.
  2. In a multi-phased election, the silence period of last 48 hours may be on in certain constituencies while campaign is ongoing in other constituencies. In such event, there should not be any direct or indirect reference amounting to soliciting support for parties or candidates in the constituencies observing the silence period.
  3. During the silence period, star campaigners and other political leaders should refrain from addressing the media by way of press conferences and giving interviews on election matters.
  1. ADVISORY TO POLITICAL PARTIES IN RESPECT OF PwDs:
  1. The Commission has been made aware of the use of derogatory or offensive language in the political discourse about Person with Disabilities (PwDs). Usage of such semantics in speech/ campaign by members of any political parties or candidates, can be interpreted as an affront to the PwDs. It is necessary to avoid usage of derogatory language. PwDs have to be accorded justice and respect in political discourse/ campaign.
  2. To promote inclusivity and respect in the language during political campaign and related communications, guidelines have been issued to all the political parties and their representatives on conduct towards PwDs which are available on the Commission’s website.
  1. ADVISORY ON PLUMMENTING LEVEL OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE:

The Mode Code of Conduct (MCC) is the primary regulation governing electioneering and specifically provides for guidelines to be observed by political parties and candidates in relation to campaign speeches and appeals. Its violation especially in the case of leaders of political parties has a widespread impact on the election process across constituencies. The Commission has been noticing several trends, which are at work, destabilizing the decorum of the political discourse during campaigning. Apart from the direct violations of the MCC, trends are in play where systematically crafted and timed statements, surrogate or indirect violations using satire to raise unverified allegations, etc. during election campaigns. As per the Model Code of Conduct provisions, the use of provocative and inflammatory statements, use of intemperate and abusive language transgressing the limits of decency, and attacks on the personal character and conduct of political rivals vitiate the level playing field. The spirit of the Model Code is not just avoidance of a direct violation. It also prohibits attempts to vitiate the electoral space through suggestive or indirect statements or innuendoes. The Commission has time and again reiterated the MCC instructions and strongly advised and cautioned all National and State Parties, the RUPPs and independent, candidates to exercise caution and restraint in their utterances.

        In view of the General Elections to the Lok Sabha 2024 and other simultaneous elections to Legislative Assemblies, the Commission vide its letter dated 01.03.2024 has issued an advisory to political parties on plummeting level of public discourse during campaigning. The advisory lay down the expected decorum by political parties and candidates in general and Star Campaigners in particular. It very clearly indicates that any genres of surrogate or indirect violation of MCC and surrogate means to plumate level of election campaign will be dealt with stern action.  The advisory is available on the Commission’s website https://www.eci.gov.in/ under the heading current issues.   

  1. LAW AND ORDER, SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS AND DEPLOYMENT OF FORCES:
  1. Conduct of elections involves elaborate security management, which includes not just the security of polling personnel, polling stations and polling materials, but also the overall security of the election process. Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are deployed to supplement the local police force in ensuring a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for the smooth conduct of elections in a free, fair and credible manner.
  2. Based on the assessment of the ground situation, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and State Armed Police (SAP) drawn from other States will be deployed during the election. The CAPFs shall be deployed well in advance for area domination, route marches in vulnerable pockets, point patrolling and other confidence building measures to re-assure and build faith in the minds of the voters, especially those belonging to the weaker sections, minorities etc. CAPFs shall be inducted well in time for undertaking area familiarization and hand-holding with local forces and all other standard security protocols for movement, enforcement activities etc. in these areas will be strictly adhered to. The CAPFs/SAP shall also be deployed in Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies and other vulnerable areas and critical polling stations as per the assessment of ground realities by the CEOs of all States/UTs in consultation with various stakeholders.  On the eve of poll, the CAPFs/SAP shall take position and control of the respective polling stations and will be responsible for safeguarding the polling stations and for providing security to the voters and polling personnel on the poll day. Besides, these forces will secure the strong rooms where EVMs and VVPATs are stored and for securing the counting centers and for other purposes, as required. The entire force deployment in the constituencies shall be under the oversight of the Central Observers deputed by the Commission.
  3. To ensure optimum and effective utilization of State Police Officials and CAPFs, Commission has directed to constitute a Committee of CEO, State Police Nodal Officer(SPNO) and State CAPF Coordinator to jointly decide the State Deployment Plan and to ensure randomization of State Police.
  1. PROTECTION TO ELECTORS OF SC/ST AND OTHER WEAKER SECTIONS:

        As per Section 3 (1) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (as amended in 2015), whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, forces or intimidates a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe not to vote or to vote for a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law, or not to stand as a candidate etc., shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine. The Commission has asked all the States/UTs to bring these provisions to the notice of all concerned for prompt action. In order to bolster the confidence of the voters hailing from vulnerable sections especially SCs, STs etc. and enhance their conviction and faith in the purity and credibility of the poll process, CAPFs/SAP shall be extensively and vigorously utilized in patrolling and conducting route marches and undertaking other necessary confidence building measures under the supervision of the Central Observers.

 

  1. ELECTION EXPENDITURE MONITORING:
  1. Comprehensive instructions for the purpose of effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates have been issued, which include deployment of Expenditure Observers, Assistant Expenditure Observers, formation of Flying Squads (FSs), Static Surveillance Teams (SSTs), Video Surveillance Teams (VSTs), Video Viewing Teams (VVTs), Accounting Teams (ATs), Media Certification & Monitoring Committee (MCMC), District Expenditure Monitoring Committee (DEMC), involvement of enforcement agencies viz. State Police Dept., State Excise Dept., Income Tax Dept., FIU-IND, CBIC, DRI, CGST, SGST, State Commercial Dept., ED, NCB, CISF, RPF, BSF, SSB, ITBP, Assam, Rifles, ICG, Department of Post, BCAS, AAI, RBI, SLBC and State Forest Dept.
  2. State Excise Department has been asked to monitor production, distribution, sale and storage of liquor and inducements in the form of free goods during the election process. The functioning and operations of the FSs/ SSTs shall be closely monitored using GPRS Tracking. For greater transparency and for ease of monitoring of Election Expenses, candidates would be required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses from only that account. The Income Tax Dept. has been asked to activate Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) in the airports of the States and also to gather intelligence and take necessary action to check movement of large sums of money in all the States/UTs. Control room and Complaint Monitoring Centre with 24 hours toll free numbers shall be operative during the entire election process.
  3. District Election Officers (DEOs) have been directed to obtain unusual and suspicious cash withdrawal or deposit of cash exceeding Rs. 1 Lakh from banks for due verification followed by necessary action. If the amount is more than Rs. 10 Lakh, then DEOs shall pass on such information to Income Tax Department for necessary action. FIU-IND has been requested to share Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs) and Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) with CBDT for effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates.
  4. Some new initiatives taken by the Commission to strengthen the Expenditure Monitoring mechanism are:
  1. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for seizure and release of cash: For the purpose of maintaining purity of elections, the Election Commission of India has issued a Standard Operating Procedure for Flying Squads and Static Surveillance Teams, constituted for keeping vigil over excessive campaign expenses, distribution of items of bribe in cash or in kind, movement of illegal arms, ammunition, liquor, or antisocial elements etc. in the constituencies during election process. Furthermore, in order to avoid inconvenience to the public and also for redressal of their grievances, if any, the Commission has issued instruction to constitute a District Grievance Committee in each district comprising three officers of the District, namely, (i) CEO, Zila Parishad/CDO/P.D. DRDA, (ii) Nodal Officer of Expenditure Monitoring in the District Election Office (Convener) and (iii) District Treasury Officer. The Committee shall suo-moto examine each case of seizure made by the Police or SST or FS and where the Committee finds that no FIR/Complaint has been filed against the seizure or where the seizure is not linked with any candidate or political party or any election campaign etc., as per SOP, it shall take immediate steps to order release of such cash etc. to such persons from whom the cash was seized after passing a speaking order to that effect. In no case, shall any matter relating to seized cash/seized valuables shall be kept pending in Malkhana or treasury for more than 7 (seven) days after the date of poll, unless any FIR /Complaint is filed.
  2. Accounting of the expenditure incurred for campaign vehicles – It has come to the notice of the Commission that the candidates take permission from the Returning Officer for use of vehicles for campaign purpose, but some candidates do not show the vehicle hiring charges or fuel expenses in their election expenditure account. Therefore, it has been decided that unless the candidate intimates the R.O. regarding withdrawing vehicles from campaigning, the notional expenditure on account of campaign vehicles will be calculated based on the number of vehicles for which permission has been granted by the Returning Officer.
  3. Account Reconciliation Meeting: A contesting candidate avail opportunity to get issue addressed relating to the election expenditure, if any, in Account Reconciliation Meeting which shall be convened by the DEOs on the 26th day of the declaration of the results.
  4. Accounting of Expenditure on publicity of criminal antecedents: In Pursuance of Hon'ble Supreme Court Judgement dated 25.09.2018 in WP(C) No. 536 of 2011, the candidates as well as the concerned political parties shall issue a declaration, in the format prescribed, in widely circulated newspapers and on electronic media in the state regarding the criminal antecedents of the candidates at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers. Candidates are required to maintain expenditure incurred by them in this regard in their accounts and the same shall be reflected in their Abstract Statement of election expenses (Schedule 10) to be submitted by them to the concerned DEOs along with their accounts of election expenses within 30 days of declaration of results. Political parties are also required to show the amount incurred by them in this regard in their full Election Expenditure Statements (Schedule 23A, 23B) to be submitted by them to ECI (recognized political party)/CEO (unrecognized political party) within 90/75 days of completion of Lok Sabha/ Assembly Election.
  5. Expenditure incurred on candidates' Booth/Kiosk and on TV/Cable Channel/Newspaper owned by party for promoting the electoral prospects of the candidate in the account of the candidate: The Commission, on further examination of the relevant provisions of section 77(1) of the R. P. Act, 1951, had decided that the candidates' booths set up outside the polling stations should hereinafter be deemed to have been set up by the candidates as part of their individual campaign and not by way of general party propaganda and as such all expenditure incurred on such candidates' booths shall be deemed to have been incurred/authorized by the candidate/his election agent so as to be included in his account of election expenses. Further, the Commission, after taking into consideration various references/complaints from various sources in the above matter, has directed that if the candidate(s) or their sponsoring parties utilize TV/Cable Channels/Newspapers owned by them for promoting the electoral prospects of the candidate, the expenses for the same, as per standard rate cards of the channel/newspaper, have to be included by the candidate concerned in his Election Expenditure Statement, even if they actually do not pay any amount to the channel/newspaper. In pursuance of the Commission’s aforesaid decisions, Schedule 6 and Schedule 4 & 4A in Abstract Statement of Election Expenses have been amended and incorporated accordingly in the Compendium of Instructions on Election Expenditure Monitoring.
  6. Accounting of Expenditure on Virtual Campaign: Candidates are required to maintain expenditure incurred by them in this regard in their accounts and the same shall be reflected in their Abstract Statement of election expenses (Schedule 11) to be submitted by them to the concerned DEOs along with their accounts of election expenses within 30 days of declaration of results. Political parties are also required to show the amount incurred by them in this regard in their full Election Expenditure Statements (Schedule 24A, 24B) to be submitted by them to ECI (recognized political party)/CEO (unrecognized political party) within 90/75 days of completion of Lok Sabha/ Assembly Election.
  7. Part and Full Election Expenditure Statement required to be submitted by Political Parties: The National and State Recognised Political Parties are required to submit their full Election Expenditure Statements with the Election Commission of India, New Delhi whereas Registered Unrecognised Political Parties (RUPPs) are required to submit their Election Expenditure Statements with the Chief Electoral Officers of the States/UTs concerned where party HQ is situated within 90/75 days of completion of Lok Sabha/ Assembly Election. In addition to full Election Expenditure Statements, the political parties are also required to file part Election Expenditure Statements in respect of lump-sum payments made by the party to the candidate(s) within 30 days of declaration of results of Assembly/ Lok Sabha elections. The part and full Election Expenditure Statements of National & State Recognised political Parties and RUPPs will be uploaded on the ECI website and CEO website respectively for public viewing.
  8. Integrated Expenditure Monitoring Software (IEMS): A new tech enabled portal https://iems.eci.gov.in/ to facilitate online filing of Contribution Report, Election Expenditure Statement (Part and Full) and Audited Annual Accounts by the Political Parties has been started. This facility has been created to enable the political parties to file the statutory and regulatory compliances, reports and statements in a hassle-free, smooth manner and with greater transparency. All Political Parties are urged to file their above-mentioned financial reports through above mentioned IEMS portal.
  9. Election Seizure Management System(ESMS):

A mobile app has also been launched to digitize data for intercepted/seized items(Cash/Liquor/Drugs/Precious Metals/Freebies/other items).

  1. Ceiling of Election Expenses for Candidates:

The election expenses ceiling for candidates has been revised by the Government of India vide Notification dated 06th January, 2022. As per the revised ceilings, the maximum limit of election expenses for a Parliamentary Constituency is Rs. 95.00 lakh per candidate for all States except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim. For these three States it is Rs. 75.00 lakh per candidate. For the Union Territories, the maximum limit for NCT of Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir is Rs. 95.00 lakh per candidate; and Rs.75.00 lakh per candidate for other UTs.

Accordingly, in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha the limit of expenses for Assembly Constituencies is Rs. 40.00 lakh per candidate and in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim it is Rs. 28.00 lakh per candidate.

The Commission has decided that an election expenditure / either by / to candidate(s) or political parties exceeding Rs. 10000/- (Ten Thousand) in all the situations be incurred by crossed account payee cheque or draft or by RTGS/NEFT or any other electronic mode linked with bank account of the candidate opened for election purpose.

  1. EFFECTIVE USE OF MEDIA:

Media, being an important stakeholder in the entire electoral process, contributes in building a well- informed citizenry which is an indispensable prerequisite for a mature democracy. Election Commission of India considers Media as its invaluable ally in making the election process truly participative, democratic, and transparent. Media also acts as the Commission's eyes and ears on the field during the election process. The Commission which works on the principle of disclosures and transparency has made media part of all important electoral processes.

(i)   Media Facilitation & Engagement: The Commission has always considered Media as an important ally and a potent force multiplier in ensuring an effective and efficient election management. The Commission has directed CEOs and DEOs of all States/UTs to take the following measures for positive and progressive engagement and interaction with the media:

(a)   Regular interaction with the media during elections and maintaining an effective and positive line of communication with the media at all times.

(b)  Effective steps to sensitize the media about the Election Code.

(c)   Authority letters will be issued to all accredited media for the polling

day and day of counting.

        Media is also expected to follow all the extant guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) or any other competent authorities regarding COVID containment measures during all their election related coverage.

(ii)  Pre-Certification of Political Advertisements and monitoring of suspected cases of paid news:

        Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) are in place at all the Districts and State level. All political advertisements proposed to be issued on electronic media shall require pre-certification from the concerned MCMC. Political advertisements in all electronic media/TV Channels/Cable Network/Radio including private FM channels/Cinema halls/audio-visual displays in public places/voice messages & bulk SMS over phone and social media & internet websites shall come within the purview of pre-certification. Commission requests all Political Parties/candidates/Media to follow pre-certification instructions.

Press Council of India (PCI) has defined paid news as “Any news or Analysis appearing in any media (print and electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration”. The Commission has accepted the definition of Paid News given by Press Council of India (PCI) and considers that ‘Paid News’ disturbs level playing field in election and adversely affects free and fair poll by circumventing election expenditure laws and causing undue influence on voters. MCMCs will also keep a strict vigil on suspected cases of paid news in the media and suitable action will be taken in confirmed cases as per ECI guidelines after following all due procedures.

(iii) Social Media & Elections:

The media landscape has seen a paradigm shift over the last decade. Social media has now emerged as a powerful communication & campaigning medium for all stakeholders, now also referred to as the fifth pillar of democracy. Considering its rising importance, the Commission proactively vide its instruction dated 25th October 2013 laid down instructions to guide and regulate the use of social media in election campaigns. Key features of the instructions are as follows:

  1. Social media by definition falls under the category ‘electronic media’ thus, all political advertisements on social media fall under the purview of pre-certification.
  2. Candidates are required to furnish details of their authentic social media accounts in Form-26 while filing nominations.
  3. Candidates and political parties are required to incorporate expenditure of social media campaigning including expenditure on political advertisements, cost of maintaining the accounts, developing content and salaries of the employees who manage the accounts in the election expenditure account of the candidate.
  4. Candidates and political parties are required to pre-certify political advertisements before release on internet-based media/social media websites
  5. Provisions of Model Code of Conduct and related instructions are applicable to the content posted on social media platforms by candidates and political parties.

Keeping in view increasing incidents of misuse of social media and as a result of ECI's vigorous persuasion, major Social Media Platforms agreed to observe Voluntary Code of Ethics formulated by them in March, 2019. This will be applicable in these elections as well.

 

An SOP for identification and quick response to any fake news/misinformation had been shared with CEOs and DEOs of all the States/UTs for time bound response.

Social media Cell in collaboration with cyber cell unit in all districts have been constituted for quick response and action with the legal framework including Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) and the Information Technology (Intermediary guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The Commission requests all Political Parties and candidates to ensure that their supporters do not indulge in hate speeches and fake news. Strict watch on social media posts is being kept by MCMCs to ensure that the election atmosphere is not vitiated. Media may also play an active role in curbing the menace of fake news.

(iv) Monitoring of Electronic and Social Media:

All the election management related news on all the major national and regional news channels during elections would be monitored vigorously. If any untoward incident or violation of any law/rule is noticed, action would be taken immediately. Reports of monitoring would also be forwarded to the CEOs. Office of CEO will ascertain status on each and every item and file ATR/Status Report.

(v)   Media restrictions during silence period and on Exit polls:

Section 126 (1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits displaying       any        election          matter by        means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, in any polling area during the period of forty-eight hours (silence period) ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll for any election in that polling area. Election matter referred hereinabove is defined as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election in any electronic media during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in each of the phases of elections.

Section 126A of the R.P. Act 1951, prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of their results by means of print or electronic media during the period mentioned therein, i.e. between the hour fixed for commencement of poll in the first phase and half an hour after the time fixed for close of poll for the last phase in all the States. Violation of Section 126 of the R.P. Act, 1951 is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with fine or both.

All Media houses are advised to follow instructions in this regard keeping its spirit. Media may also refer to the ‘Guidelines issued by Press Council of India’ dated 30.07.2010, ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct- 2022’ and “Guidelines for Election Broadcasts” issued by News Broadcasters & Digital Association dated 3rd March, 2014.

(vi) Campaigning on Public Broadcaster – DD & AIR

Election Commission of India, based on past performance of the political parties, has been allocating free equitable broadcast & Telecast time to recognized National & State political parties on the two public broadcasters - Doordarshan and All India Radio in every Lok Sabha and State Assembly Election for campaigning. The scheme, which was initially notified on 16th January 1998, holds a statutory basis under Section 39A of the R.P. Act, 1951.

 The time vouchers which were issued physically to the political parties are issued digitally. With this facilitation, the political parties will not be required to send their representatives to ECI for collection of the time vouchers physically during elections.

  1. Deployment of Central Observers-
  1. General Observers: The Commission will deploy IAS officers as General Observers in adequate number to ensure smooth conduct of election in consultation with the CEOs of the poll going States. The Observers will be asked to keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process to ensure free and fair election.
  2. Police Observers: The Commission would deploy IPS officers as Police Observers in consultation with the CEOs of the poll going States at District/PC/AC level, depending upon the need, sensitivity and assessment of ground situation of the District/PC/AC. They will monitor all activities relating to force deployment, law and order situation and co-ordinate between Civil and Police administration to ensure free and fair election.
  3. Counting Observers: In addition to the already deployed General Observers, the Commission may also deploy additional officers as Counting Observers at District/PC/AC level, depending upon the requirement in consultation with the CEOs of the poll going States. They will oversee the counting center arrangements and monitor all activities relating counting of votes.
  4. Special Observers: In exercise of the plenary powers conferred on it by Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the Commission also deploys Special Observers who belong to All India Services and various Central Services if seems necessary.
  5. Expenditure Observers: The Commission has also decided to appoint adequate number of Expenditure Observers who will exclusively monitor the election expenditure of the contesting candidates.
  1. ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES (EVMs)        AND VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL (VVPATs):
  1. EVMs and VVPATs-The Commission shall deploy Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) along with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at every polling station in the General Elections to Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process as VVPAT allows the voter to verify his/her vote. Arrangements have already been made to ensure availability of adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs for the smooth conduct of elections.
  2. Awareness on EVMs and VVPATs-EVM Demonstration Centres have been set up at District Election Officer Office and Returning Officer Headquarters/Revenue Sub Division Offices for physical demonstration-cum-awareness on use of EVM and VVPAT. Mobile Demonstration Vans have also been deployed to create awareness on use of EVMs and VVPATs to cover all polling locations. The same was operational till announcement of elections, whereas digital outreach for awareness on EVMs and VVPATs will be intensified after announcement.
  3. Randomization of EVMs and VVPATs-EVMs/VVPATs are randomized twice using “EVM Management System (EMS 2.0)” while being allocated to an Assembly Constituency/segment and then to a polling station ruling out any pre-fixed allocation. First randomization of EVMs and VVPATs is conducted by the District Election Officer to allocate the units Assembly Constituency/Segment wise in the presence of the representatives of the recognized political parties. The lists containing unique IDs of machines are shared with them. After finalization of list of the contesting candidates, Second randomization of EVMs and VVPATs will be conducted by the Returning Officers to allocate the units polling station-wise in the presence of the contesting candidates/their representatives. Lists of randomized EVMs/VVPATs are also shared with recognized political parties/contesting candidates.
  4. Commissioning of EVMs and VVPATs-After finalization of list of the contesting candidates and second randomization of EVMs and VVPATs, entire process of commissioning (candidate setting) of EVMs and VVPATs is done in the presence of the contesting candidates/their representatives. TV/Monitor will be installed in commissioning hall for simultaneous viewing of symbol loading in VVPATs by candidates/their representatives for greater transparency. After commissioning (candidate setting) of EVMs and VVPATs, in every EVM and VVPAT, mock poll with one vote to each candidate including NOTA is done. Additionally, mock poll of 1000 votes is conducted in 5% randomly selected EVMs, as well as VVPATs. The electronic result is tallied with paper count. Candidates/their representatives are allowed not only to select 5% machines randomly but also to do mock poll.
  5. GPS tracking of movement of EVMs and VVPATs- The Commission has instructed the Chief Electoral Officers of all States/ UTs that end-to-end movement of all EVMs and VVPATs including reserve shall be carefully monitored at all times, for which vehicle carrying EVMs and VVPATs shall mandatorily be fitted with GPS tracking system.
  6. Mock Poll on Poll Day-
  1. On poll day, 90 minutes before start of actual poll, mock poll is conducted by casting at least 50 votes ensuring that votes are recorded for each of the contesting candidates including NOTA at every polling station, in the presence of polling agents of the candidates and the electronic result of the Control Unit and the VVPAT slips count are tallied and shown to them. A certificate of successful conduct of mock poll shall be made by the Presiding Officers in Presiding Officer’s Report.
  2. Immediately after mock poll procedure, the CLEAR button on Control Unit (CU) is pressed to clear the data of the mock poll and the fact that no votes are recorded in the CU is displayed to the Polling Agents present in the polling stations. The Presiding Officer also ensures that all mock poll slips shall be taken out from the VVPAT slip compartment are stamped “MOCK POLL SLIP” and kept in separate sealed black envelope before the start of actual Poll.
  3. After mock poll, EVMs and VVPATs are sealed in the presence of polling agents and signature of polling agents are obtained on seals, before starting actual poll.
  1. Poll Day and Storage of polled EVMs and VVPATs at Strong Rooms-
  1. After completion of poll, Presiding Officer shall press the “CLOSE” button of the Control Unit of the EVM so that no further vote can be cast. EVMs and VVPATs are sealed in the respective carrying cases in the presence of polling agents and signature of polling agents are obtained on seals.
  2. On poll day a copy of Form-17C having details of total polled votes, seals (unique number), serial numbers of EVMs and VVPATs used in polling stations is provided to polling agents of candidates.
  3. Polled EVMs and VVPATs are escorted back to the strong room for storing in double lock system in the presence of candidates/their representatives under videography. Candidates/Polling Agents are also allowed to follow the vehicles carrying EVMs and VVPATs from polling stations to Reception Centre for the purpose of storing in the Strong Room.
  4. Candidates or their representatives can also camp in front of the strong room. These strong rooms are guarded 24x7 in multilayers, with CCTV coverage facilities.
  1. Counting of Votes at Counting Centres-
  1. On the day of counting, strong room is opened in the presence of Candidates, their authorised representatives, RO/ARO and ECI Observer under videography.
  2. Only Control Units of the polled EVMs are brought to the Counting Hall(s) under security under CCTV coverage and in the presence of candidates/their agents.
  3. Round-wise CUs are brought to the counting tables from Strong Rooms under continuous CCTV Coverage.
  4. On the counting day, before retrieving the result from the Control Units, the seals are verified, and unique serial number of CU is tallied before counting agents deputed by the candidates.
  5. On counting day, counting agents can verify the polled votes displayed on CU with that of Form-17C. Candidate-wise polled votes are recorded in Part-II of Form-17C and signature of counting agents are obtained thereof.
  6. EVMs & VVPATs are stored back in Strong Room in the presence of candidates/their representatives till the completion of the Election Petition period.
  1. Mandatory Verification of VVPAT Paper Slip-In pursuance of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India’s Order dated 8th April, 2019, the Commission has mandated VVPAT slips count of Five (5) randomly selected Polling Stations in each Assembly Constituency/Segment of the Parliamentary Constituency of the States/UTs by the Returning Officer, by draw of lot in presence of candidates/their counting agents & ECI Observer, for verification of the result obtained from the Control Unit. This mandatory verification of VVPAT slip count of five (5) polling stations in each Assembly Constituency/ Segment shall be in addition to the provisions of Rule 56(D) of the Conduct of Elections Rules,1961.
  2. None of the Above (NOTA) in EVMs, VVPATs and Postal Ballot: As usual, there will be ‘None of the Above’ option for the electors. On the BUs, below the name of the last candidate, there will be a button for NOTA option so that voters who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their option by pressing the button against NOTA. Similarly, on Postal Ballot Papers there will be a NOTA Panel after the name of the last candidate. The symbol for NOTA as given below will be printed against the NOTA Panel.

As part of the SVEEP, there are awareness programmes to bring this option to the knowledge of electors and all other stakeholders.

  1. Photographs of Candidates on EVM Ballot Paper: In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, ECI has prescribed an additional measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate on the Ballot Paper to be displayed on the EVM (Ballot Unit) and on Postal Ballot Papers. This will help voters to avoid any confusion, which may arise when candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency. For this purpose, the candidates are required to submit to the Returning Officer, their recent stamp-size photograph as per the specifications laid down by the Commission.
  1. DEPLOYMENT OF POLLING PERSONNEL, RANDOMIZATION AND THEIR VOTING FACILITIES:
  1.  Polling parties shall be formed randomly, through the special randomization IT application.
  2. There shall be such randomization for Police personnel and Home Guards also, who are deployed at the polling stations on the poll day.
  3. All persons appointed on election duty who are not able to cast their vote at the polling station where they are enrolled as a voter are entitled to the facility of either an EDC or a Postal Ballot.
  4. In case, they are put on election duty in the same constituency in which they are enrolled as a voter, they are entitled to get an EDC which entitles them to vote at the polling station where they are on duty.
  1. VOTERS’ FACILITATION CENTERS FOR POLLING PERSONNEL-

As per new Rule 18A inserted in the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, now a Voter on Election Duty, shall receive his postal ballot, record his vote thereon and return the same at the Facilitation Center set up by the Returning Officer. Therefore, in view of the extant rule position, all the Voters on Election Duty, deployed in a constituency where they are not enrolled as a voter, shall cast their votes only at the Facilitation Centers and not in any other manner. They shall sign the declaration in Form 13A in presence of, and have the signature attested by, any Group A or Group B officer or the presiding officer of the polling station at which they are on election duty.

  1. INCREASED REMUNERATION OF POLLING PERSONNEL-

Polling parties on the ground are the epitome of grit and resilience.  Their determination to keep the spirit of democracy reigning supreme truly is an inspiration to one and all. Further, in view of the arduous and difficult journey that polling teams have to undertake to ensure that no voter is left behind, ECI has recently doubled the remuneration of polling officials heading for election duty three days or more in advance to reach polling stations located in remote and difficult areas. Till now, the remuneration for polling Officials used to be uniform per diem amount for all polling personnel.

  1. CONDUCT OF OFFICIALS:

        The Commission expects all officials engaged in the conduct of elections to discharge their duties in an impartial manner without any fear or favour. They are deemed to be on deputation to the Commission and shall be subject to its control, supervision and discipline. The conduct of all Government officials who have been entrusted with election related responsibilities and duties would remain under constant scrutiny of the Commission and strict action shall be taken against those officials who are found wanting on any account.

  1. IT APPLICATIONS BEING USED IN ELECTION MANAGEMENT-

The Commission has enhanced usage of IT Application, to usher in greater citizen participation and transparency.

  1. cVIGIL App for filing Model Code of Conduct Violation cases by Citizen: cVIGIL provides time-stamped evidentiary proof of the Model Code of Conduct/ Expenditure Violation by empowering every citizen to click a photo or video using his or her smartphone. The application is based on GIS technology and the unique feature of auto location provides fairly correct information which can be relied upon by flying squads to navigate to the right spot of incidence and take prompt action. This app prioritizes the speedy and effective actions by authorities and promised users status reports within 100 minutes. The application is available on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
  2. Suvidha Portal: This portal provides different facility to candidates/ political parties for online nomination, Permission as given below-
  1. Candidate Online Nomination: To facilitate filling of nominations, the Election Commission has introduced an online portal for filling the nomination & affidavit. The Candidate can visit https://suvidha.eci.gov.in/ to create his/her account, fill nomination form, deposit the security amount, check availability of time slot and appropriately plan his visit to the Returning Officer. Once the application is filled through the online portal, the candidate only needs to take a printout, get it notarized and submit the application along with relevant documents to the Returning Officer in person. The Online Nomination Facility is an optional facility to facilitate ease of filing and correct filing. The regular offline submission as prescribed under the law shall continue too.
  2. Candidate Permissions module: The permission module allows the candidates, political parties or any representatives of the candidate to apply online for the permission for meetings, rallies, loudspeakers, temporary offices, and others through SUVIDHA Portal https://suvidha.eci.gov.in/. The Candidates can also track their application status through the same portal.
  3. Candidate App: Suvidha: In view of COVID-19, the Commission has directed that allocation of public spaces for meetings and rallies must be done using the Suvidha app as far as practicable. The application will be available during elections for Candidates / Political Parties / Agents to download and use to track the nomination and permission status from the Google Play store.

iii) Candidate Affidavit Portal: Candidate Affidavit portal is a web portal that allows citizens to view the complete list of Candidate Nominations who have applied for the elections. The citizen, political parties and media houses to know about the candidates, accesses this portal. A complete candidate profile with photo and affidavit is made public as and when the Returning Officer enters the data. The Complete list of Contesting Candidates with their profile, nomination status and the affidavits will be available for public view through Candidate Affidavit Portal. This portal can be accessed using  https://affidavit.eci.gov.in

  1. Know Your Candidates (KYC): The Election Commission of India has developed a dedicated app for Know your Candidate (KYC) for both Android and iOS platforms for informing about “Criminal Antecedents” status of candidates. This allows citizens to browse candidates with/ without Criminal Antecedents and empowers the citizens to know the criminal antecedents of the candidates. The application is available on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
  2. Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Management System (ETPBMS) for Service Voter:
  1. Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Management System (ETPBMS) is upgraded version of ETPBS having enhanced features and Dashboard & Reporting modules for all stakeholders. The system is use to generate and transmit Postal Ballot through Electronic means to the Service Voters. The system has also been integrated with Department of Post so that Service voter can send his/her Ballot after casting vote, through speed post without paying any charges. Detailed instructions are sent, along with Postal Ballot, to each service elector. On the day of counting, the same system will be used to validate the Postal Ballot received by post to verify whether the received ePostal Ballot is generated by the system or not.
  2. The Postal ballots sent to service electors electronically are called Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots (ETPBs). The return of ETPB is through postal services.  Earlier, the envelopes for postal ballot were forwarded by the CEOs to the Record Officers in order to dispatch polled ETPBs by the service voters through post. Now, the Commission has decided that the CEOs are not required to send envelopes to the Record Officers for this purpose. The Record Officer/Unit Officer/Commandant or any other competent authority, as the case may be, shall procure the envelopes and provide them to the Service Voters for dispatching their polled ETPBs to the respective Returning Officers.
  1. Voter Turnout App: Voter Turnout App will be used to display estimated provisional voter turnout details of each Assembly Constituency / Parliamentary Constituency entered by the Returning officer.  The media can also use the same application to capture estimated voter turnout data. Approximate voter turnout data of each phases of the elections will be displayed through this app. The application is available on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
  2.  ENCORE Portal: The ENCORE portal is an end-to-end application for all election officials (CEO, DEO, RO & ARO) that has a well-defined responsibility for each official to perform various activity in multiple modules. Brief introduction of different modules of this portal is given below:
  1. Candidate Nomination: The Returning Officer will fill all the required details to register the profile of a candidate in the system that will be used at multiple levels of conduct of election process. For all received nominations, the Returning Officer needs to upload the affidavits. This is also applicable in case of multiple nominations by one candidate.
  2. Candidate Scrutiny & Finalization: This system provides facility of marking nominations as Accepted / Rejected during scrutiny and marking of withdrawal if any candidate withdraws his candidature. After the last date of withdrawal, the returning officer can also generate his form 7A through the system.
  3. Election Permission: The permission module allows the election officials to process the permission request received by the candidates, political parties or any representatives of the candidate who applied for any permission using SUVIDHA portal or submitted the permission request physically to election office.
  4. Election Counting: The ENCORE counting application is an end-to-end application for AROs/ROs to digitize the votes polled in EVM and through Postal Ballot, tabulate the data each round to declare the result of the election. The same data of the election counting is used to prepare various statutory reports of counting.
  5. Index Card: A facility has been provided to the Returning Officer to fill the Index card online after counting. It contains each detail of elections from the schedule of elections to the declaration of results such as data on nomination, turnout, counting etc.
  6. Expenditure Monitoring: This expenditure-monitoring module provides facility to all the DEOs to feed the data of DEO Scrutiny reports prepared in respect of each candidate.
  1.  Results Website and Results Trends TV: The timely publication of the round-wise information is vital for establishing a single source of authentic data. The counting data entered by respective Returning Officers is available as ‘Trends and Results’ for public view through ’ECI Results website’ https://results.eci.gov.in/ The result website has been upgraded with enhanced features including map view for better users’ experience. The results are shown with the Infographics and displayed with auto-scroll panels through large display screens outside the counting hall or any public place through Trends TV. The trends & results is also available on VHA mobile App.
  2. EVM Management System (EMS 2.0): EVM Management System 2.0 is designed to manage inventory of EVM units. One of the important modes to ensure a fair and transparent process in EVM management is the administrative protocol of the two sets of randomizations of the machines before they are deployed in the Polling stations. The randomizations of EVMs/VVPATs are done through EMS 2.0 in the presence of recognized political parties/ contesting candidates/representatives and ECI Observers.
  3. Voter Service portal: Through (https://voters.eci.gov.in ), a user can avail and access various services such as access the electoral list, apply for voter id card, apply online for corrections in voter’s card, view details of Polling Booth, Assembly Constituency and Parliamentary Constituency and get the contact details of Booth Level Officer, Electoral Registration Officer among other services.
  4. Voter Helpline Mobile App (VHA): Citizens can avail and access various services such as apply for a voter ID card, apply online for corrections to voter's card, view details of the Polling Booth, Assembly Constituency, and Parliamentary Constituency, and get the contact details of the Booth Level Officer, Electoral Registration Officer among other services. The mobile app is available on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
  5. Persons with Disability Application (Saksham App): Saksham app is meant for Person with Disabilities. The PwD elector can make requests for marking them as PwD, request for new registration, request for migration, request for correction in EPIC details, request for wheelchair. It utilises the Accessibility features of mobile phones for voters with blindness and hearing disabilities. The application is available on the Google Play Store and Apple App store.
  6. BLO App: BLO App (erstwhile known as GARUDA App) is a dedicated Mobile App for BLOs to perform their tasks digitally. The application is available on both the Google Play store and Apple App store. The following are the main features of the BLO App:
  • Checklist/Field Verification of Forms
  • Collection of AMF (Assured Minimum Facility)/EMF (Extended       Minimum Facility)
  • Capturing of GIS co-ordinates of Polling Stations.
  • Update of Photos of Polling Stations
  • Form Submission on behalf of Electors
  • House to House Verification
  1.  ERONET: ERONET is a web-based system for Electoral officials, in 14 languages and 11 scripts, to handle all processes pertaining to Form 6/6A/7/8. It standardised forms processing, standard database schema, and a standard template for E-Roll printing. It automates the process of electoral roll management starting from elector registration, field verification of electors, decision support system for Electoral registration officers and for providing extensive integrated value-added services. All 29 States and 7 UTs are sharing common infrastructure at the National Level. UNPER (Unified National Photo Electoral Roll) is a common database for all States and UTs with data of more than 94 crore electors.
  2. National Grievance Service Portal (NGSP): The Election Commission has developed a National Grievance Service Portal (NGSP). This system is developed in such a manner that in addition to providing redress to the complaints of the Citizens, Electors, Political Parties, Candidates, Media and Election Officials at National, State and District levels, it also serves as a common interface for providing services through a common interface. The application provides a single interface for handling complaints by the Election officials. All Electoral Officers, District Election Officers, CEO and ECI Officials are part of the system. Thus, issues are directly assigned to the respective user upon registration. The citizen can use this service using https://voters.eci.gov.in
  3.  Election Seizure Management System (ESMS): In order to ensure inducement-free elections, the Election Commission of India has embedded technology into the monitoring process through the Election Seizure Monitoring System (ESMS) Mobile App which is proving to be a catalyst, as it brought a wide array of Central and State enforcement agencies together for better coordination and intelligence sharing. ESMS Mobile App is being used to digitize data for intercepted/Seized items (Cash/Liquor/Drugs/ Precious Metal/ Freebies/Other Items) direct from field. This enables stakeholders to automate desired reports in the required format, avoid duplicate data entry by Agencies and analyze received data at the CEO Level.
  4. Integrated Election Expenditure Monitoring System (IEMS): Integrated Election Expenditure Monitoring System (IEMS) is a user-friendly, secure online platform which enables Political Parties to submit online prescribed documents like Contribution report (From 24A), Annual Audit Account, Election Expenditure. Key features for IEMS are as follows:
  • Digitize details of contribution received and submit online
  • Real-time compliance status on Dashboard
  • Capture Mandatory Info/ Validations/Verification to increase data     quality
  • Bulk import feature to quickly upload data through Excel format
  • Email/ SMS based alerts / acknowledgements to increase compliance

· Aadhaar based e-Sign

  1. Election Planning Portal: The Election Planning Portal is the new initiative taken by the Election Commission of India to provide a digital platform to the election management process. This portal will be accessed by the CEOs of all the States and UTs, Planning division and zonal divisions in ECI. This portal has various features that cover almost all-important aspects related to vacancy management, bye-elections, election scheduler, holiday management, security management etc. This application has a well-informative dashboard that provides a quick snapshot of the electoral data to the CEOs and ECI users. This application uses an auto alert algorithm to intimate the CEOs about the plan and overdue activities of their state and parliamentary planner. The ECI user can also communicate with the state officials via SMS and mail using this portal.
  2.  Media Voucher Online (https://timevoucher.eci.gov.in): The Election Commission of India's "Go Green" initiative is a commendable step towards a more environmentally responsible and efficient electoral system. By adopting digital vouchers, the Commission is demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and modernization. This initiative not only benefits the environment but also enhances the experience for political parties involved in the electoral process. It sets a positive example for other governmental bodies and organizations to follow, highlighting the importance of embracing digital solutions and eco-friendly practices in a rapidly changing world.
  3. Observer Portal: Observer portal is an online portal for data management of all types of observers i.e. general observer, police observer and expenditure observes. The deployment schedule of the observer, report submission and many other activities are completed with the help of this portal. The observers also get multiple facilities like filling & submission of reports, notification from the commission, downloads of all the required documents and many more. Parallel to the web portal, a mobile app is also provided that includes all the features that are available in the web application.
  1. COVID GUIDELINES:

        The Commission has issued COVID Guidelines to be followed during the conduct of the General Election and Bye Elections which are available at Commission’s website.

  1. SCHEDULES OF GENERAL ELECTIONS:

The Commission has prepared the Schedule for holding General Election to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim after taking into consideration all relevant aspects like climatic conditions, academic calendar, board examination, major festivals, prevailing law and order situation in the State, availability of Central Armed Police Forces, time needed for movement, transportation and timely deployment of forces and in-depth assessment of other relevant ground realities.

  1. Before concluding, I would like to reiterate that the Commission is totally committed to maintain purity of elections and to deliver free, fair, transparent, peaceful, inclusive, accessible, ethical and participative elections in the entire country.

 

  1. The Commission has directed the Central, State and District Level Election Machinery to be completely impartial, fearless, objective, and independent from any influence whatsoever. The Commission solicits proactive support of all political parties, media organizations, civil societies, youth and community organizations and all voters to join hands with the Commission and wholeheartedly participate in poll process. I hope that with the proactive participation and support of all stakeholders in the country, all National and State level elections will attain greater heights in all benchmarks recording highest turnout ever in the country.

 

  1. On the occasion of 18th Lok Sabha Election and simultaneous assembly election in 4 States, the Commission reassures the nation of its solemn resolve and deep commitment to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair, credible, inclusive, participative and transparent elections. The Commission exhorts election machinery to re-dedicate themselves to the task associated with the conduct of elections as a sacred duty. The Commission appeals to all the stakeholders and in particular, the political parties and the candidates, to uphold the peerless democratic traditions of the nation by maintaining high standards of political discourse and fair play in course of their election campaigns. Finally, the Commission calls upon all voters to reinforce the democratic ethos of the nation by turning up at the polling stations and exercise their right to vote in an informed and ethical manner.

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DK/RP



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