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Covid-19: Does elections with ballot paper is an option?

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The coronavirus pandemic is a situation that spreads when people mingle, come in contact with each other and even from contaminated surfaces. Under such condition holding an election will increase the spread of the virus, and it will cost lives. As India has opened up its lockdown for an economy with some restrictions, but holding an election at such critical times would be 10 times risky than any other situation.

In Indian democracy, elections are a central concern and critical. They should be postponed only in exceptional situations, such as massive risk to life and limb. for instance, past elections were postponed in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab due to militancy.

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The term of the current Bihar assembly expires on 29th November 2020 but chief election commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora has declared he has ‘no plan’ to postpone the elections in Bihar.

Major threats to elections are:

  1. Elections itself becoming a potential virus spreader.
  2. The difficulty of organising voting amid restrictions.
  3. COVID restrictions coming in the way of free and fair election campaigns.

Though CEC Arora says that the whole process of polling is being re-imagined, he says it will organise elections in such a way that it won’t violate any rules made by National Disaster Management Authority.

Well, this model code of conduct will bring conflicts with NDMA and raise issues of acceptable and equal opportunity which somehow results in spreading the virus and develop new controversy.

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In COVID times election with ballot paper is also not a logical option, because we have recently witnessed Madhya Pradesh’s government change and its by-poll election through which Jyotiraditya Scindia is down with COVID-19, and constantly increasing cases in MP. During by-poll elections, even COVID positive MLA came for voting wearing a PPE kit which later became a topic of debate.

Hence, it is clearly justified that conducting elections either by EVM or paper ballots none will help or stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Written by Kanishtha Singh, a Mass Communication student at Makhanlal Chaturvedi University(MCU), Bhopal. Interested in covering women, political and international issues.

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