‘Democracies come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid 19’
Precious Kashmir News
New Delhi, Sept 21: On completion of one year of Chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), Election Commission of India Monday hosted an International Webinar on the Theme ‘‘Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19 : Sharing Country Experiences’.
It was an occasion for democracies world over to come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid19.
It may be recalled that last year on September 3, 2019 India had taken over as Chair of A-WEB for 2019-2021 term during the 4th General Assembly of A-WEB held at Bengaluru.
Inaugurating the Webinar, Chief Election Commissioner of India and Chairperson, A-WEB Sunil Arora spoke of the “tough predicament” faced by Election Management Bodies across the world – whether and how to hold scheduled elections in a state of public health emergency.
He said the contextual framework of every country was different, the extent and trajectory of the disease varied and so did the capacity of each country to respond to the novel corona virus and its catastrophic impact. He mentioned countries such as South Korea, Australia, Malawi, Taiwan, Mongolia and many others who went ahead with scheduled elections even as they put in place the enormous arrangements required to ensure the health and safety of people while conducting election.
Arora mentioned that 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 72.9 million.
Explaining the impact of Covid-19 on the election, Arora highlighted how Covid19 exigencies and social distancing measures necessitated a revisit of ECI’s extant instructions.
“The maximum number of electors at a polling station was reduced from 1500 to 1000, and consequently, the number of polling stations jumped by 40 per cent, from 65,000 to 100,000. These changes have huge logistics and manpower implications. CEC mentioned that the Commission would take a decision within the next two to three days, on visiting Bihar,” he said.
Over 120 delegates from 45 countries across the world (viz. Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tonga, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Zambia) and 4 international organizations (viz. International IDEA, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and European Centre for Elections) participated in the Webinar today.