Bihar Assembly Election 2020 — Here’s how COVID-19 has changed the election preparations

  • The Election Commission has reduced the number of phases to three due to COVID-19.
  • Moreover, the voting time will be extended by one hour and votes will be cast from 7 am till 6 pm, this excludes the left wing extremism-affected areas.
  • EC has provided guidelines for social distancing norms and sanitisation protocols
Bihar goes to polls next month in what will be the first major state election in India during COVID-19 pandemic this year. Bihar’s assembly election will take place in three-phases between October 28 and November 7.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything that is the ‘norm’. From how we live to how we function, and elections are also adapting to the new normal. While several political parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal had suggested delaying the election, the Election Commission says it has taken all the necessary steps to ensure social distancing.

Here’s how elections will take place amidst this coronavirus pandemic:

  • Polls to be held in lesser phases
The Election Commission (EC) has reduced the number of phases to three due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“Elections entail large scale deployment of security forces. We have tried to minimise their movement over a long distance. We have reduced the number of phases due to this," says Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commission of India,

  • More polling stations, lesser voters per station
Further, according to Arora, the number of voters per polling station will be cut to 1,000 to facilitate social distancing. This will raise the number of polling stations to over 1 lakh in 2020 from 65,337 in the 2015 poll.

  • Voting hours extended
Moreover, the voting time will be extended by one hour and votes could be cast from 7 am till 6 pm, except for the left wing extremism-affected areas.

  • Provisions for COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 patients or suspects, who are quarantined, can cast a vote at the last hour of polling day with health department supervision, apart from the option of postal ballot facilities

  • Filing nominations online
Candidates can fill nomination forms for Bihar Assembly Elections online. Security money can also be transferred in online mode, says CEC.

The number of people who will accompany the candidate to file nomination papers is restricted to two people. For campaigning, door-to-door campaigning limit is three persons; convoys will be restricted to five cars.

  • The two crucial factors: Social distancing and sanitisation
Chief Election Commissioner said that the poll body has held several interactions and made arrangements for assembly elections amid COVID-19. They include -

  • 7 lakh hand sanitizers
  • 46 lakh masks
  • 6 lakh PPE kits
  • 6.7 lakh face shields
  • 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves
Besides, the postal ballot facility will be provided wherever required and requested. Social distancing norms will need to be followed at public gatherings during the poll campaign.

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