New Delhi: A two day conference of the Chief Electoral Officers of all the States and UTs was organized by the Election commission on 11th and 12th of January. A comprehensive review of Poll Preparedness of the States prior to the General elections 2019 was conducted through these two days.
The primary focus of the Election commission was on the integrity of the electoral roll, meticulous planning for elections, EVM and VVPAT assessment and training and extensive voter outreach.
Addressing the CEOs, the Chief Election Commissioner of India Sh. Sunil Arora emphasized the fact that the electoral roll that is currently under the process of revision and finalization will be used in the forthcoming General elections. Hence, this particular revision assumes additional importance and care must be taken to ensure the purity of the Roll. He also said that every effort must be made so that all voters are registered well in time. He reaffirmed the significance of the 1950 Helpline for the voters and its role as the First point of Care for the voter in finding her name in the Role,EPIC status and in connecting to the Election machinery and exercising her democratic right. He directed all the state CEOs to set in place support systems for the 1950 Helpline as early as possible.
Sh. Arora reiterated the commitment of the Election commission of India to provide assured minimum facilities in all polling stations. He also directed the CEOs to have their Booth level, District level and state level Plans ready and conduct a meticulous assessment of all resources required for the conduct of elections. The States and the UTs must assess their EVM/ VVPAT requirements and also ensure adherence to the timelines specified for completion of their First Level checking. He laid stress upon extensive Hands on experience of the EVM and VVPAT among the voters as well as during the training of polling officials as it helps to minimize the glitches and also boosts confidence among the stakeholders.
The Election Commissioner Sh. Ashok Lavasa, in his address to the CEOs reiterated the immense significance of the integrity of the electoral roll at this crucial juncture. He said that the entire election machinery must now be geared up in order to deliver yet another flawless election to the country. In order to accomplish this herculean task, a detailed planning process and a leadership role has to be assumed by the CEO at the state and the DEOs in the districts.He suggested to each state to reach out to each and every voter and develop innovative mechanisms to facilitate People with disability. He also emphasized upon coordination with bordering states as well as with other agencies in order to give more teeth to the expenditure Monitoring mechanisms operative in the states.
Through the two day conference, each and every aspect of conduct of election including availability of sufficient budget, manpower, resources, SVEEP, planning, polling station arrangements and IT applications including Suvidha, Sugam and C-Vigil were discussed in detail and the preparedness of States/UTs on each of these parameters was assessed.
The five states which had recently undergone Assembly elections – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Telengana and Rajasthan gave a presentation on the take aways and the learnings from their experiences.Chhattisgarh had developed an app to track their polling personnel which streamlined the process. Madhya Pradesh developed an app to ensure queue less voting experience for people with disabilities, pregnant women and women with infants. These five states demonstrated how technology can be leveraged to enhance voter experience and also provide crucial data in an instant to the election officers.
Mizoram highlighted its successful conduct of elections despite initial problems. The Mizoram experience was on of building bridges with the civil society organizations, opening dialogue and also the setting up of polling stations for the Bru community in coordination with the state of Tripura was a notable achievement.
Both Rajasthan and Telengana cited several instances of innovative sveep campaigns incorporating local cultural practices which led to a good turn out in these states.
All the other CEOs of States and UTs made comprehensive presentations to the Commission on the key areas of their preparations for the forthcoming LokSabha Elections 2019.
The Conference closed both with a sense of achievement as well as a sense of heightened responsibility for the task that lay ahead.