SHILLONG, March 10: With the Election Commission of India (ECI) sounding the Parliamentary poll bugle on Sunday, Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer, Frederick Roy Kharkongor informed that the state is well prepared at all levels to make it a fair and square polls.
Informing that the state has been slotted on the first phase which comprises of about 91 constituencies across 20 states, Kharkongor said, “In terms of poll preparation, we are already in a healthy mode.”
He also informed that the notification will be issued on March 18, while the last date of filing of nominations will be on March 25 and the following day (March 26) will be the scrutiny of nomination papers and last date of withdrawal of candidature is on March 28.
“The date of polling will be held on April 11 and the results will be declared on May 23,” Kharkongor said.
- Single phase polling on April 11, counting on May 23
- Total voters: 18,92,716. 11,82,725 eligible voters for Shillong LS seat; 7,09,991 for Tura
- 9,56,137 females voters; 9,36,579 male voters
- 1114 Polling stations in Tura; 2053 Polling stations in Shillong
- Notification will be issued on March 18
- Last date of filing of nominations is March 25
- Scrutiny of nomination papers on March 26
- Last date of withdrawal of candidature is March 28.
- 3167 polling stations
- Candidates need to file their income returns in the last five years.
- Candidates need to furnish details about their social media accounts
- EVMs and VVPATs will be used in all polling stations
- Special arraignments to be made for PwDs
Giving out the statistics, he said as per the final electoral rolls published on January 17, 2019, the total electorate in the state stand at 18,92,716 of which 9,56,137 are females which is higher by 20,000 compared to their male counterparts which is at 9,36,579 while 3067 are service voters. The total number of electorate under the age group of 18-19 years is 76,782.
“This figure will also rise because we have just had the special camps and continuous updation has been allowed by the Election Commission right up to the last date before the polls. The EP ratio is about 98.34%,” he said.
Talking about the polling stations, Kharkongor said, “We have gone up by 84 polling stations over the last Assembly elections to 3167. In term of location, we have 2404 polling stations located in rural areas while 211 in urban areas.”
Informing that 704 have been identified as vulnerable polling stations, 249 are critical and 68 are both critical and vulnerable polling stations while 2146 are normal, Kharkongor reiterated that these are the categorisation as of now and since these are dynamic figures and as what may be critical now may not be critical in the days ahead or vice versa.
He informed that there are 86 polling stations along the international border with Bangladesh and 171 bordering Assam.
The Chief Electoral Officer also informed that there is a new provision that has been added as per the recent amendment made in the nomination, where candidates are directed to file their income returns in the last five years.
Apart from these, the CEO said that the candidates while filing their nominations will have to give their social media accounts in view that the EC is very serious about the pilferation of fake news and misleading information on social media so that this can be closely monitored.
“At the level of the police, there is a cyber cell that has been constituted which is headed by AG and SP level officer who will be closely monitoring the social media accounts and information that is posted on the social media,” he added.
He will also hold a video conferencing with the different Deputy Commissioners on Monday as well as a meeting with all political parties in the afternoon to highlight various aspects related to the model code of conduct.
Asked in regard to the ongoing Assembly’s Budget Session, the CEO said there is a provision where in the context of elections being announced, if the Budget Session is ongoing then the normal budgetary work will go on but the government cannot announce new schemes or new programmes.
He said the citizens’ vigilant app or cVigil, which will be a tool in the hands of citizens to upload any violation of model code of conduct, has also been introduced by the Election Commission.
Highlighting on the other measures taken, Kharkongor said the EVMs and VVPATs will be used in all the 3167 polling stations, adding that training is going in full swing and first level of checking of the EVMs and VVPATs have been done.
All women polling stations and model polling stations will also be set up.
To ensure wholesome and constructive participation and active engagement of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the election process, the Commission has directed issuance of Accessible Photo Voter Slips with Braille Features to persons with visual Impairment or Blind, over and above normal photo voter slips to be issued.
“We have around 4932 voters who are persons with disabilities and community rural workers will be placed in all polling stations to assist them besides senior citizens,” he informed.