The Election Commission of India, on Thursday, announced that the polls to the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh Assembly will be held on November 9 and counting of votes will take place on December 18. Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti, while announcing the dates, said that the polling process for the state will start with the issue of election notification on October 16. He said that the last date for filing nomination is October 23. CEC Joti said that the model code of conduct for the elections comes into effect immediately. He added that the bulk SMSes and voice messages on phone will come in the purview of election advertisements. Meanwhile, here’s a look at the top 10 announcements made by the EC, in relation to the Himachal Pradesh Elections:
1. EVM-VVPAT: “The poll in the State will be conducted at all polling stations using EVMs and VVPATs. VVPATs will be used along with EVMs in all the 68 Assembly Constituencies of poll going state of Himachal Pradesh to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election.”
2. Election awareness: “A comprehensive SVEEP programme has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh to increase voters’ awareness and education about the VVPATs. These measures will continue and will be further augmented during the ensuing electoral process.”
3. Cadidate photograph: “In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, the Commission has prescribed an additional measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate also on the ballot to be displayed on the EVM (Ballot Unit) and on Postal Ballot Papers. This will also take care to avoid likely confusion when candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency.”
4. Moral Code of Conduct: “The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately from now onwards. All the provisions of the Model Code will apply to the whole of Himachal Pradesh and will be applicable to all candidates, political parties and, the State Government of Himachal Pradesh. The Model Code of Conduct shall also be applicable to the Union Government insofar as announcements/policy decisions pertaining to/for this State is concerned.”
5. Videography: “District Election Officers will arrange sufficient number of video and digital cameras and camera teams for the purpose. The events for videography will include 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.”
6. Use of loudspeakers: “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 p.m. and 6.00 a.m.”
7. Law and Order: “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. In the insurgency-affected areas, 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.”
8. Election Expenditure Monitoring: “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 that very account. The Investigation Directorate of Income Tax Dept. has been asked to open Air Intelligence units in the airports of these states and also to gather intelligence and take necessary action against movement of large sum of money in these states.”
9. Ceiling Of Election Expenses: As per the revised ceilings, the maximum limit of election expenses for the Assembly Constituencies is Rs 28 lakh per candidate for the state of Himachal Pradesh.
10. Political Advertisements: The Commission has decided that the bulk SMSs/Voice messages on phone and in election campaigning shall also be in the purview of pre-certification of election advertisements.