Lucknow: Clearing the air on whether polls will be held amid a spike in new infections, the Election Commission today said that all political parties in Uttar Pradesh have said the upcoming Assembly elections should be held on time while ensuring Covid protocol.
Addressing the media at the end of his three-day visit, the CEC Sushil Chandra told that all parties, including the ruling BJP, prime challenger Samajwadi Party, the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party, among others, have said the elections must be held on time.
Listing steps being taken to prevent a surge in infections, the CEC said voting time will be extended by an hour and 11,000 booths added to ensure distancing.
"In view of the increase in number of voters and also the prevailing pandemic condition, we have decided to set up 11,000 more polling booth to ensure that there is no crowding. With this, there will also be an increase in the number of polling personnel. We are also increasing the polling time by one hour across the state to prevent crowding at polling stations," he said.
The number of voters per polling booth has been reduced to 1,250 instead of the earlier 1,500 to ensure social distancing.
The CEC said that special arrangements would be made for senior citizens and divyangs at polling stations and they would also be given the option of postal ballets, lists of which would be made available to political parties.
"We have asked concerned officials to inspect the arrangements and ensure facilities for water, toilets, sitting arrangement, ramps and wheel chairs are available for voters."
He noted that all personnel on election duty would be fully vaccinated, while thermal scanners, masks, sanitizers would be available at polling stations.
Chandra said that he had discussed with police officials about the law-and-order situation and asked them to ensure the safety and security of voters, particularly women. Additional women police personnel will be deployed at polling stations.
"We have also asked other agencies to ensure that there is no distribution of money and liquor or any other freebie during elections," he said.