The Election Commission of India on Friday announced that the Bihar Assembly elections will be held in three phases from October 28. Polling will be done on October 28, November 3 and November 7 for each phase respectively. The votes will be counted on November 10.
In the first phase of the election, 71 assembly constituencies in 16 districts will go to the polls; 94 constituencies in 17 districts will vote in the second phase; in the third and final phase, voting will be held in 78 constituencies in 15 districts.
At the press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that the Bihar Assembly elections could be the biggest elections in the world during the coronavirus pandemic. He also listed the precautionary measures that will be undertaken by the Election Commission.
The EC has reduced the number of voters per polling station from 1,500 to 1000 to help with social distancing. This will increase the number of polling stations to over one lakh in 2020 from 65,337 in the 2015 poll. The EC has also arranged over seven lakh hand sanitiser units, about 46 lakh masks, six lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of faces-shields and 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves for the elections. For voters specifically, 7.2 crore single-use gloves have been arranged. The number of voters in 2020 has increased to 72 million from 67 million in 2015.
Postal ballots have been extended to people above the age of 80 years and for Covid-19 patients. Patients with COVID -19 who are quarantined can also vote in the last hour. Additionally, the polling time has been increased by one hour and will be held from 7 am to 6 pm. This extension will not be applied to “Left-wing affected” areas. District election officers will identify spaces for physical campaigning and also ensure circles are marked on the ground to ensure social distancing.
The Model Code of Conduct will also be in force from the time of the announcement. Candidates are required to publish any criminal antecedents on TV channels and newspapers on three occasions. Political parties must also publish why they chose this candidate over others on their websites.