Vote in the time of Covid: EC hosts global webinar

Democracies world over come together to share experiences of conducting elections during pandemic

GN Bureau | September 21, 2020


#Election Commission of India   #democracy   #election   #healthcare   #Novel Coronavirus   #Covid-19   #Sunil Arora   #Bihar   #delhi  
Ibdia`s chief election commissioner Sunil Arora addressing the internation webinar on Monday
Ibdia`s chief election commissioner Sunil Arora addressing the internation webinar on Monday


On completion of one year of the chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), the Election Commission (EC) of India on Monday hosted an international webinar on the theme of “Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting  Elections during COVID-19 : Sharing Country Experiences”. It was an occasion for democracies world over to come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid-19.

On September 3, 2019 India had taken over as chair of A-WEB for a two-year term during its 4th General Assembly held at Bengaluru. Inaugurating the webinar, the chief election commissioner of India and chairperson, A-WEB, Sunil Arora, spoke of the "tough predicament" faced by election management bodies across the world – whether and how to hold scheduled elections amid a state of public health emergency.

He said the contextual framework of every country was different, the extent and trajectory of the disease varied and so did the capacity of each country to respond to the novel coronavirus and its catastrophic impact. He mentioned countries such as South Korea, Australia, Malawi, Taiwan and Mongolia which went ahead with scheduled elections even as they put in place the enormous arrangements required to ensure the health and safety of people while conducting election.

Arora mentioned that elections in India pose formidable challenges on account of large electorate, geographical and linguistic diversity and differing climatic conditions. Explaining in detail the scale of the upcoming elections to the legislative assembly of Bihar, he mentioned that the total number of electors is 72.9 million.

Explaining the impact of Covid-19 on the election, he highlighted how the pandemic exigencies and social distancing measures necessitated a revisit of the EC’s extant instructions. The maximum number of electors at a polling station was reduced from 1,500 to 1,000, and consequently, the number of polling stations jumped by 40 percent, from 65,000 to 100,000. These changes have huge logistics and manpower implications. The CEC mentioned that the commission would take a decision within the next two to three days, on visiting Bihar.

He also said that the EC has placed a lot of emphasis on extending facilitation to senior citizens, women, persons with disabilities and in current circumstances, ensuring franchise to Covid-positive voters and those in quarantine. In this context, the CEC mentioned how, beginning with the elections to the legislative assembly of Jharkhand in November-December 2019, and elections to the legislative assembly of Delhi in February 2020, the postal ballot facility was extended to voters who are aged more than 80 years, persons with disability and those who engaged in specified essential services. This facility of postal ballot has been extended to Covid-positive electors who are in quarantine/hospitalized.

Arora mentioned the specific and detailed guidelines that have been drawn up on conducting election during the time of Covid. He also mentioned the successful conduct of elections to 18 seats of the Rajya Sabha in June. He noted that elections are due in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu in the first half of the year 2021.

The CEC recalled the AWEB General Assembly, and noted that this webinar is being held under the aegis of India A-WEB Centre on the occasion of completion of one year of ECI’s term as Chair of A-WEB.

Referring to the two publications being released on the occasion, ‘Brief Profiles of the Countries, member EMBs and Partner Organisations of A-WEB’ and ‘COVID 19 and International Election Experience’, he said these would be a useful tool for researchers and practitioners alike. He said that A-WEB India Centre has also progressed considerably towards publishing a world class journal called “AWEB Journal of Elections’. Its first issue will be released in March 2021.

The webinar had participation from over 120 delegates. They represented 45 countries: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of  Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic,  Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tonga, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Zambia. Four international organizations were also represented at the event: International IDEA, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and European Centre for Elections.

The A-WEB is largest association of election management bodies (EMBs) worldwide.   At present it has 115 EMBs as members and 16 regional associations/organisations as associate members. The EC has been very closely associated with the process of formation of  A-WEB since 2011-12.

Comments

 

Other News

How much time do you spend talking on phone?

How much time do Indians spend talking on phone? It is on average 761 minutes per month, according to a new report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The telecom regulator released its report, titled ‘The Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators: July-Septemb

“Developing public health infrastructure key to sustainable healthcare for all”

Renowned cardiologist Dr Ramakanta Panda has said that the pandemic has exposed the inadequacy of existing healthcare systems and it is wrong to draw comparisons with Korea, a country with the population equal to that of a single Indian state. While speaking to Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Gove

SC-appointed panel on farm laws holds first meet

The committee of experts appointed by the supreme court to deliberate with the stakeholders on the new farm laws held its first meeting here Tuesday, with one of its members saying that all stakeholders, including individual farmers, will be heard. Hearing a petition on the farm laws enacted

India’s glitch-free vaccination gathers pace

The nationwide vaccination campaign launched Saturday, the largest such exercise in the world, has started setting new benchmarks, with vaccines administered to 2,24,301 beneficiaries in the first two days. “India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day1 under its COVID19 v

Maharashtra to spend Rs 2,500 crore to augment, develop power infrastructure

The Maharashtra government has announced a spending of Rs 2,500 crore annually to develop infrastructure of state-owned distribution company Mahavitaran (MSEDCL).   Out of the total amount, Rs 1,500 crore will be spent on energisation of conventional agriculture pumps and Rs 1,000 crore

Launched: Largest vaccination drive in history

India on Saturday began the massive vaccination drive against Covid-19, as prime minister Narendra Modi paid tributes the ‘corona warriors’. “Such a vaccination drive at such a massive scale was never conducted in history. There are over 100 countries having less than 3 cro

Masterminds: Masterclass on World Affair with Sreeram Chaulia





Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter