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Election Commission of India (ECI) Observers To Keep Close Tab On Poll Expenditure



GUWAHATI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) will depute ‘Observers’ to keep a tab on the expenditures of candidates during the 2019 general polls in the State. “Election expenses have to be properly accounted,” stated Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Assam, MC Sahu while addressing media persons here on Wednesday.

Pointing out that “the expense limit for each candidate will be Rs 70 lakh”, the CEO further stated, “To keep a tab, video surveillance will be arranged. The ‘Expenditure Observers’ will be monitoring this crucial aspect of the candidates on a regular basis. We may seek footages from the media also in this regard.”
On paid news, the CEO said, “Even advertisements in the form of a news report will not be allowed.”

The CEO added that “Poll-related security assessment is going on”.
He further stated, “Once the ECI announces the schedule for the 2019 general elections, the model code of conduct would come into force. Then without prior permission, no political party or candidate will be allowed to organize or address rallies or use helicopters for election campaigning. However, to do so, they will have to apply to the authority concerned. It can be done both online as well as offline.

“Neither a political party nor a candidate would then be allowed to float advertisements in either the print or the electronic mode without the mandatory ‘media certification’.” He added that “two committees would be providing the certification. These panels would be functioning at the district and State levels.”

The CEO also informed of “four Android-based Apps specifically designed for the 2019 general election. These are cVIGIL, Voter Helpline, Suvidha, and Pwd. They can be downloaded on Google Play store, he stated.

cVIGIL stands for “citizens’ vigil”. It provides time-stamped evidentiary proof of model code of conduct/expenditure violation and has live photo/video facilities with auto location data. The App will work only during the time the model code of conduct (MCC) is in place in a poll-bound State.  “These uploads will be verified by the units concerned subsequently,” he pointed out

With the aid of Voter Helpline App, a person would be able to check the status of his/her position in the electoral roll. There would be additional election-related information there for the public as well.

Using the Suvidha App, a political party’s representative, candidate and election agent can apply for various permissions for election purpose.
The Pwd App is meant for ‘people with disabilities’. The ECI is working towards easing the voter identification and registration process for the PwDs by offering them customized services during election time.

When asked whether the people whose names have not yet figured in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) would be able to exercise their franchise, the CEO said, “There is no connection between the NRC and the electoral roll.” Further clarifying on the point, CEO Sahu said, “Only those people will be able to cast their votes whose names are listed in the electoral roll. But doubtful voters will not be able to do so.”

He again stated, “If any voter does not possess the EPIC (Electors Photo Identity Card), the person can contact the district election officer concerned.”

The CEO also pointed out that “VVPATs will be used in all polling stations. On the day of counting, we will count the slips of one VVPAT along with the EVMs randomly in each LAC segment.”

On the number of voters in the State, the CEO said, “As per the summary revision of photo electoral roll, the number stands at 2,17,60,604. However, continuous updation is on, and the number is expected to rise at the time of election.”

The CEO also had an interaction with all political parties with regard to the election-related guidelines.

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