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Gujarat assembly : polls in two phases on December 9th and 14th
[ In Focus | Assembly  /  25 Oct 2017 ]

Gujarat will go to polls in two phases on December 9th and 14th for 182 assembly seats. Announcing this Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said 89 seats will go to polls in the first phase and the rest 93 in the second phase. 

The term of the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat is normally due to expire on 22.01.2018.

By virtue of its powers, duties and functions under Article 324 read with Article 172(1) of the Constitution of India and Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Commission is required to hold general election to constitute the new Legislative Assembly in the State of Gujarat before expiry of its present term.

(1)       Assembly Constituencies

The total number of Assembly Constituencies in the State of Gujarat and seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, as determined by the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 2008, are as under: 

(2)      Electoral Rolls

The    electoral rolls    of    all    the existing Assembly Constituencies in the State of Gujarat have been revised, with reference to 01.01.2017 as the qualifying date. The dates of publication of the Final Rolls was 27.09.2017 and the details of the final publication are available on the ECI website. As per the final roll, the number of electors in the State is as follows:

 

 

State

 

Total No. of Electors as per Draft Rolls published on 01/07/2017 w.r.t. 01/01/2017 as qualifying date

 

Total No. of Electors as per Final Roll published on 25/09/2017

Gujarat

42718198 (4.27 Crore)

43337492 (4.33 Crore)

(Increase of 1.44%)

 

 

 

  • Improvement in the health of the electoral rolls: The Commission firmly believes that pure and updated electoral rolls are the foundation of free, fair and credible election and intensive and sustained focus is laid on improving their quality and fidelity. The Commission, after visiting the poll bound State, had directed the State election machinery to ensure a smooth, effective, accessible and time-bound completion of Special Summary Revision of Electoral Rolls with 01.01.2017 as the qualifying date, so as to ensure that all eligible un-enrolled electors in the State are duly register Special efforts were made to identify the critical gaps in the electoral rolls and targeted SVEEP activities were carried out to address them.

The Commission has been constantly endeavouring to improve the fidelity of electoral rolls by taking focused efforts for maximization of registration of eligible electors and removing the impurities in the rolls. In 2015, the Commission has launched a nationwide comprehensive programme, namely, NERPAP with an objective of bringing an error free and authenticated electoral roll. A similar programme called as NERP, 2016 was organized with the objectives of improvements of health of electoral roll and standardization of sections, polling station and part boundaries.

This year, in tune with the theme of ‘No’ voters to be left behind’ the Commission utilized the period of continuous updation, for maximization of enrolment of young electors particularly 18-19 age group and removal of entries of registered dead voters.

Special Initiatives taken in Gujarat:

Second Special Summary Revision 2017 was organized in Gujarat  from 1st July, 2017 to 25th September, 2017 during which 10.46 Lac no. of voters name have been added in the electoral rolls .

Special drive to enroll left out voters has been organized from 9th  - 25th October, 2017 in which BLOs are visiting house  of every family in the area and will collect the forms from the left out voters.

(b)     Photo Electoral Rolls

Photo Electoral Rolls will be used during this General Election and photo percentage in Photo Electoral Rolls of this State is 99.99%.

(c)     Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC)

Identification of the voters at the polling booth at the time of poll shall be mandatory. Electors who have been provided with EPIC shall be identified through EPIC. Presently, the EPIC coverage in Gujarat is as under:-

 

State

Percentage of EPIC

Gujarat

99.99%

All the residual electors are advised to obtain their Elector Photo Identity Cards from the Electoral Registration Officers of their Assembly Constituencies, urgently.

In order to ensure that no voter is deprived of his/her franchise, if his/her name figures in the Electoral Rolls, separate instructions will be issued to allow additional documents for identification of voters, if needed. Adhaar Card has also been included as an additional document for establishing the identity of voters at the Polling Stations. 

(d)     Photo Voter Slips

To facilitate the voters to know where he/she is enrolled as a voter at a particular polling station and what is his/her serial number in the Electoral roll, the Commission has directed that official voter slip bearing the Photo of the elector (wherever present in the roll) will be distributed at least 7 days before the date of poll to all enrolled voters by the District Election Officer and a very close and rigorous monitoring of the distribution process shall be done by the DEO and General Observer concerned. The size, design and format of the Photo Voter Slip has also been substantially improved to enhance its utility and effectiveness in voter identification, awareness and guidance by increasing the size of the image, providing additional information along with polling station Nazri Naksha on the reverse of the slip and improvement in the quality of printing. It has also been directed that the said voter slip should be in the languages in which electoral roll is published for that Assembly Constituency. The Commission has laid a special emphasis on the systematic, efficient and timely distribution of the Photo Voter Slips through the Booth Level Officers (BLOs), who are under strict instructions to hand over the voter slip to the elector concerned only and not to any other person. The BLOs shall also maintain a Pre-Printed Register of Voters and take the signatures/thumb impression of person to whom the Photo Voter Slip is delivered.

The residual undistributed Voter Slips shall be returned by the BLO to the concerned ERO, who shall keep the same in a sealed cover after making an alphabetical list of the undistributed PVS in respect of each Part/polling station. Two copies of such alphabetical lists shall be handed over to the RO of the concerned constituency, while sealed cover of undistributed photo voter slips shall remain in safe custody with the ERO. No further distribution of photo voter slips shall be done after the same are returned to the ERO.

(e)     Voter Guide Brochure:

In this election, a Voter Guide Brochure (in Gujarati) shall be handed over to every household ahead of the elections, giving information about the date and time of polls, contact details of the BLOs, important websites, helpline numbers, documents required for identification at the polling station besides other important information including the Do’s and Don’ts for voters at the polling station. This Voter Guide Brochure will be distributed along with the Photo Voter Slips by the BLOs.

 (3)       Polling Stations and Special Facilitation

The number of Polling Stations of Gujarat are as follows:

 

State

No. of Polling

Stations in 2012

No. of Polling

Stations in 2017

 

% Increase

Gujarat

44579

50128

12.44%

 

(a)     Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) at Polling Stations:

The Commission has upgraded the status of facilities at the Polling Stations from the earlier concept of Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) to Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF). Accordingly, instructions have been issued to the Chief Electoral Officer to ensure that every Polling Station is equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) like drinking water, shed, toilet, ramp for the physically challenged voters, a standard voting compartment etc. for the convenience and facilitation of voters.

(b)       Facilitation for Persons with Disabilities (PwD):

The Commission has issued instructions to ensure that as far as practicable, all polling stations are located at ground floor and sturdy ramps are provided for the convenience of differently-abled electors with wheel-chairs. Further, in order to provide targeted and need- based facilitation to differently-abled voters, the Commission has directed that all Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in an Assembly Constituency are identified and tagged to their respective Polling Stations and necessary disability-specific arrangements made for their smooth and convenient voting experience on the poll day. Identified PWDs will be assisted by volunteers appointed by RO/DEO. Special facilitation will be made for PWDs electors at Polling Stations. Also, it has been directed that differently-abled electors are given priority for entering polling booths, provision made for designated parking spaces close to the entrance of polling premise and special care to be provided to electors with speech and hearing impairment. Special focus has been laid for the sensitization of the polling personnel regarding the unique needs of the differently-abled.

(c)     Voter Facilitation Posters:

In order to fulfill the statutory requirements under Rule 31 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 and to provide accurate and relevant information for voter awareness and information at each polling station, the Commission has also directed that uniform and standardized Voter Facilitation Posters (VFP) shall be displayed on all Polling Stations for greater facilitation and awareness of the voters. A total of FOUR (4) Posters have been designed to capture voter-centric information relevant on the poll day like details of the Polling Booth, polling area specified for that particular polling booth, list of contesting candidates, contact details of the important election functionaries, list of prescribed identification documents, illustrative voting procedure, items prohibited around the polling booth and important Do’s and Dont’s to be observed on the poll day. The Commission has directed that these four VFPs shall be prominently displayed at each polling booth in the poll-going State.

(d)     Voter Assistance Booths (VAB):

Voter Assistance Booths shall be set up for every polling station location, having a team of BLO/officials with the objective of facilitating the voter to locate his/her polling booth number and serial number of that voter in the electoral roll of that concerned polling booth. The VABs will be set up with prominent signage and in such a manner that it will be conspicuous to the voters as they approach the polling premise/building to enable them to seek required facilitation on the poll day.

(e)     Increase in Height of Standardized Voting Compartment to ensure Secrecy of Voting-:

In order to maintain the secrecy of vote at the time of poll and uniformity in use of voting compartments, the Commission has issued revised instructions to increase the height of the Voting Compartments to 30 inches. It has been, further, directed that the Voting Compartment should be placed on a table whose height shall be 30 inches and only corrugated plastic sheet (flex-board) of steel-grey colour, which is completely opaque and reusable, shall be used for making the voting compartments. The Commission hopes that the use of these standardized and uniform Voting Compartments in all the polling booths will translate into greater voter facilitation, enhance the secrecy of vote and eliminate aberrations and non-uniformity in the preparation of Voting Compartment inside the polling booths.

(4)        Special Arrangement For Women:

  All-Women Managed Polling Stations: As part of its firm commitment towards gender equality and greater constructive participation of women in the electoral process, the Commission has also directed that, to the extent possible, ‘All- women Managed Polling Stations’ shall be set up in one polling station for each Assembly Constituency where the entire polling staff, including the police and security personnel, shall be women. Total 182 Women managed Polling Stations will be setup for the entire state of Gujarat for the first time.

(5)        Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs):

The poll in the State will be conducted at all polling stations using EVMs and VVPATs. The Commission has already made arrangements to ensure availability of adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs for the smooth conduct of election. The First Level Check of EVMs and VVPATs has been completed in 32 out of 33 districts in the presence of representatives of political parties. A two-stage randomization of EVMs and VVPATs will also be done. In the first stage, all the EVMs and VVPATs stored in the district storage centre will be randomized by the District Election Officer (DEO) in the presence of the representatives of the recognized political parties for Assembly Constituency-wise allocation. Second randomization of EVMs and VVPATs will be done at RO level before preparation of EVMs and VVPATs for polling station-wise allocation. This is done in the presence of Observer contesting candidates/their agents. EVMs and VVPATs will be prepared and set for election after finalization of the contesting candidates, At this stage also, candidates or their agents/representatives will be allowed to check and satisfy themselves in every manner about the error-free functionality of the EVMs and VVPATs. On a pilot basis, VVPAT from One (1) Polling Station in each Assembly Constituency will be randomly selected to count VVPAT paper slips for verification of the result obtained from the Control Unit. Thus paper slip for 182 polling stations will be counted in Gujarat. A comprehensive SVEEP programme has already been launched in Gujarat to increase voters’ awareness and education about the VVPATs.

  • Mock Poll: Mock poll was conducted in EVMs and VVPATs during the First Level Checking in the presence of the representative of Political Parties. Mock poll shall also be conducted in the presence of candidates/their agents during the commissioning of EVMs and VVPATs. Further, on the poll day, Mock Poll shall be conducted by the Presiding Officer at each Polling Station before the commencement of actual polling in the presence of the Polling Agents set up by the contesting candidates and a Certificate of successful conduct of the Mock Poll shall be made by the Presiding Officer. Immediately after the conduct of Mock Poll, the CLEAR Button shall be pressed on the EVM to clear the data of the Mock Poll and the fact that no votes are recorded in the Control Unit shall be displayed to the Polling Agents present. The Commission has issued directions for ensuring proper training to all the polling personnel regarding the conduct of Mock Poll, as well as to create awareness amongst the political parties, contesting candidates, their polling agents and other stakeholders about the Mock Poll pr

 

(b)     None Of The Above (NOTA) In EVMs and VVPATs: In its judgment dated 27th  September, 2013 in Writ Petition (C) No. 161 of 2004 (People’s Union for Civil Liberties Vs Union of India and another), the Supreme Court has directed that there should be a “None of the Above” (NOTA) option on the ballot papers and EVMs and VVPATs.

On the Balloting Unit, below the name of the last candidate, there will now be a button for NOTA option so that electors who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their option by pressing the button against NOTA.   The Commission has provided a new symbol for the NOTA option, which was designed by National Institute of Design (NID). This new symbol will facilitate the voters in casting of their votes.

 

 NOTA Symbol

The Commission is taking steps to bring this to the knowledge of voters and all other stakeholders and to train all field level officials including the polling personnel about the provision of NOTA and its symbol.

(c)     VVPAT ( Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail)

VVPATs will be used along with EVMs in all the 182 Assembly Constituencies of poll going state of Gujarat to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election. A comprehensive SVEEP  programme has already been launched in Gujarat to increase voters’ awareness and education about the VVPATs.

(d)     Photographs Of Candidates On EVM Ballot Paper

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. For this purpose, the candidates are required to submit to the Returning Officer, their recent Stamp Size photograph as per the specifications laid down by the Commission. The poll-bound State will be using the photograph of the candidates on the ballot papers for the first time. Instructions have also been issued to ensure necessary publicity of this instruction.

(6)       Deployment of Polling Personnel And Randomization

Polling parties shall be formed randomly, through the special randomization IT application. Three-stage randomization will be adopted. First, from a wider district database of eligible officials, a shortlist of a minimum 120% of the required numbers will be randomly picked up. This group will be trained for polling duties. In the second stage, from this trained manpower, actual polling parties as required shall be formed by random selection software in the presence of General Observers. In the third randomization, the polling stations will be allocated randomly to these polling parties just before the polling party’s departure. There shall be such randomization for Police personnel and Home Guards also, who are deployed at the polling stations on the poll day.

(7)       Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) for Service Voter:      

            During De-novo registration of service voters of various services efforts have been taken by the Commission to maximize the enrollment of service voters with correct particulars. Final publication of service voters Rolls has been done of 23rd October, 2017 and continuous updating phase has started.

            Commission has implemented ETPBS on pilot basis in four states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur and in the entire state of Goa in the State Assembly Elections conducted during Feb-March, 2017. The Commission has decided to implement ETPBS in General Election to Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh which would be extended in ensuing Gujarat Assembly elections too.

 (8)      Affidavits Of candidates:

  • All Columns to be filled In: In pursuance of the judgment dated 13th September, 2013 passed by the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (C) 121 of 2008 (Resurgence India Vs Election Commission of India and Another), which among other things makes it obligatory for the Returning Officer “to check whether the information required is fully furnished (by the candidate) at the time of filing of affidavit with the nomination paper”, the Commission has issued instructions that in the affidavit to be filed along with the nomination paper, candidates are required to fill up all columns. If any column in the affidavit is left blank, the Returning Officer will issue a notice to the candidate to file the revised affidavit with all columns duly filled in. After such notice, if a candidate still fails to file affidavit complete in all respects, the nomination paper will be liable to be rejected by the Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny.  The Chief Electoral Officer  has been directed to brief all Returning Officers about the judgment of the Supreme Court and the Commission’s instructions.

(b)     Additional Affidavit along with ‘No Demand Certificate’:

The Commission has, in pursuance to the Judgment of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in W.P.(C ) No. 4912/1998 (KRISHAK BHARAT VS UNION OF INDIA AND ORS), directed that at every elections to either the House of Parliament or to the State Legislature, every candidate, at the time of filing nomination paper, shall also file an additional affidavit in the prescribed format along with the ‘No Demand Certificate’ from the agencies providing electricity, water and telephone with also rent, in case he had been in occupation of any Government accommodation during the last 10 years. This Affidavit would be in addition to the affidavit required to be filed in Form-26, and shall be got attested by an Oath Commissioner or Notary Public or Magistrate of the First Class. The outer limit for filing this Affidavit would be 3.00 PM on the last date of filing nomination papers. It is also specified that failure to file the affidavit along with the ‘No Demand Certificate’ would be treated as a defect of substantial nature for the purposes of Section-36 of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

(c)     Introduction  of  additional  facility  of  e-Filing  of  Candidate  Affidavits:  The Commission has provided to the candidates an additional facility for online submission (e-filing) of their Affidavit. The candidate can go online to ECI website (eci.nic.in) and can submit their affidavit online through any of the services of NIC or NSDL. Candidate need to take print out of the affidavit submitted online and then get it notarized and submit it to Returning officer (RO). RO is required to verify the printed copy with the submission done by the candidate. Further, trained Election Commission Return Preparers will be available in each district to assist candidates in e-filing of affidavits and abstract statements and expenses on the same will be borne by the Commission.

(d)   Changes in the Format of Nomination Form:

 Vide a notification dated 16th September, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, the format of nomination paper (Forms 2A to 2E) has been partially amended. In the new format, there is a requirement of affixing the photograph of the candidate and a provision has been inserted for the  candidate to make a declaration that he/she is a citizen of India and has not acquired citizenship of any other country. The format of nomination papers has been further amended vide M/o Law notification dated 07.04.2017.

 (9)       District Election Management Plan (DEMP)

The District Election Officers have been asked to prepare a comprehensive District Election Management Plan in consultation with SSPs/SPs and Sector Officers, including the route plan and communication plan for conduct of elections. These plans will be vetted by the Observers taking into account vulnerability mapping exercise and mapping of critical polling stations, in accordance with Election Commission of India’s extant instructions.

(10)     Communication plan

 The Commission attaches great importance to preparation and implementation of a perfect communication plan at the district/constituency level for the smooth conduct of elections and to enable concurrent intervention and mid-course correction on the poll day.  For the said purpose, the Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat to coordinate with the officers of Telecommunication Department in the State headquarters, BSNL/MTNL authorities, the representatives of other leading service providers in the State so that network status in the State is assessed and communication shadow areas be identified.  The CEO has also been instructed to prepare the best communication plan in the State and make suitable alternate arrangements in the communication shadow areas by providing Satellite Phones, Wireless sets, Special Runners etc.

(11)     Model 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 Gujarat and will be applicable to all candidates, political parties and, the State Government of Gujarat. 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.

The Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of the MCC Guidelines. Any violations of these Guidelines would be strictly dealt with and the Commission re-emphasizes that the instructions issued in this regard from time to time should be read and understood by all Political Parties, contesting candidates and their agents/representatives, to avoid any misgivings or lack of information or inadequate understanding/interpretation. The government of the poll-bound State has also been directed to ensure that no misuse of official machinery/position is done during the MCC period.

The Commission has also issued instructions for swift, effective and stringent action for enforcement of Model Code of Conduct during the first 72 hours of announcement of the election schedule and also for maintaining extra vigilance and strict enforcement action in the Last 72 hours prior to the close of polls.  These instructions have been issued in the form of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for compliance by the field election machinery.

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