Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora on Monday said “elections in India pose formidable challenges” at the inauguration of the international webinar on the theme “Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during Covid-19 : Sharing Country Experiences” on completion of one year of chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB).
According to ECI’s press note, it was an occasion for democracies world over to come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid -19.
South Korea’s National Election Commission (NEC) detailed the steps it took for the electoral process, in which it is widely believed that no Covid-19 transmission took place.
South Korea reportedly grappled with nearly 10,000 Covid-19 cases on April 15. The country, however, became the first one to go ahead with its national elections, which saw a voter turnout of around 30 million. At the presentation, the Koreans said that they had implemented a three-phase voting protocol for patients under quarantine.
Home voting was an option for those who had tested positive until March 28 and special early voting was allowed for those who received a positive result between March 28 and April 11.
Eight care centres were set up for the latter, while the registration for home voting was done online and the Commission sent home voting ballot paper.
Over 11,000 voters who had self-quarantined on April 15 were asked to collect a token to vote after 6 pm, close of time of voting, to cast their votes in specific polling stations.
Korea’s learnings come ahead of the 243-member Bihar assembly elections, which are likely to be held ahead of November this year and have an electoral pool of over 70 million voters.
“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 729 million,” Arora told news agency ANI.
The webinar had participants from over 45 countries. According to officials who attended the webinar, Arora and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar were among those who spoke, along with secretary-general Umesh Sinha.
“A presentation was made about the preparedness for the upcoming Bihar polls,” said a person familiar with the matter.