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Lok Sabha polls: Biggest peacetime movement of men, material in world

Lok Sabha polls: Biggest peacetime movement of men, material in world
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New Delhi, Mar 17 (PTI) Holding of Lok Sabha elections is a mammoth exercise that entails the biggest peacetime movement of men and material in the world through waterways, air and land across India to ensure no voter is left behind.

The Election Commission, mandated to hold the gigantic democratic exercise starts preparing for the polls at least one-and-a-half years in advance by training officials, poll personnel and ramping up the supply of required EVMs and indelible ink, besides other equipment.

The elections for the 18th Lok Sabha will begin on April 19 followed by subsequent phases on April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

Nearly 97 crore registered voters across 543 constituencies will cast their ballot at 10.5 lakh polling stations.

Around 1.5 crore polling and security personnel, about 55 lakh EVMs and four lakh vehicles will be deployed for the polls, according to the poll authority.

As early as in June last year, the EC had initiated “first level checks” of EVMs and paper trail machines across the country in a phased manner.

“Mock polls” are part of the first level check (FLC) process to ensure parties are satisfied with the machines.

The EC issues a calendar for such exercises and there are standing instructions that are to be followed by state chief electoral officers.

During FLCs, electronic voting machines and paper trail machines are checked for mechanical flaws by engineers of BEL and ECIL, the two PSUs which manufacture the two equipment.

Faulty machines are returned to the manufacturers for repair or replacement.

A mock poll is also held to check the two machines in the presence of representatives of political parties.

While it puts the required equipment and infrastructure in place, the poll panel also starts interacting with its officials at the state level to understand their requirements.

State chief electoral officers are called for sessions where they share best practices and learn from each others’ experience in election management, voter awareness and preventing malpractices which can disturb level playing field during polls.

A key component of election management is the deployment of security personnel and their movement by trains, boats and helicopters.

To firm up the plan, the EC top brass holds meeting with senior officials of the Union home ministry and Railways. Comfortable stay and hygienic food for security and polling personnel also requires planning at the grass-roots level.

While the EC is busy sending the required number of EVMs in states ahead of polls, the Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd gets ready to complete its order of providing indelible ink.

This time it has been tasked with providing over 26 lakh vials of indelible ink, which leaves a deep purple mark on a voter’s left forefinger, to various states.

The Karnataka government undertaking has been manufacturing the ink since 1962, solely for the Election Commission.

The ink is applied on the left forefinger of a person as proof that she or she has cast the vote.

One 10 ml vial can ink 700 people. Every polling station has 1,500 voters, which means two vials of ink is needed per polling station.

Ahead of voting day, EVMs are carried to the polling stations.

Once the voting ends, the machines are brought back to the strong room where they are kept under three layers of lock.

The machines later reach the counting centres on the day votes are to be counted.

The machines in which votes are stored and the paper trail machine slips are preserved for at least 45 days in case the election is challenged in a high court.

An “election petition” challenging the poll result has to be filed within 45 days.

KV Network

Kashmir Vision cover all daily updates for the newspaper

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