The Election Commission on Saturday said it has introduced the facility to Vote-from-Home (VFH) for people above 80 years of age and those with disabilities in the upcoming assembly elections in Karnataka.
Addressing reporters here, Chief Election Commissioner, Rajiv Kumar said, "For the first time the ECI is going to provide the facility to those above 80 years of age. Our teams will go there with a form-12D to exercise their franchise." Though the EC encourages those above 80 years to come to the polling station, those who cannot can avail this facility, he added. Secrecy will be maintained and the entire process will be videographed, Kumar explained.
"All the political parties will be informed whenever there is a movement for Voting From Home (VFH)," he said.
For people with disabilities, a mobile application called 'Saksham' has been introduced, which they can login to and choose the option to vote.
Another mobile application, 'Suvidha' has been developed, which is an online portal for candidates to file nominations and affidavits.
"Candidates can also use the SUVIDHA portal for seeking permission for meetings and rallies," the top election official said.
The ECI has also launched a campaign called Know Your Candidate (KYC) for the benefit of voters.
"Political parties have to inform the voters on their portals and social media platform as to why they chose a candidate with criminal background and gave ticket to contest the election," Kumar said.
The Commission has introduced e-VIGIL mobile application for anyone to lodge complaint relating to election code violations. The response time will be 100 minutes, the CEC said.
"This is a single app for recording, reporting and resolving violations. This app captures the GIS location and the response time to address the grievance is 100 minutes." Speaking of the Karnataka assembly election, he noted that the state with 224 constituencies has 36 seats reserved for the SCs and 15 for the STs.
There are 5.21 crore voters including 2.59 women voters. The number also includes 16,976 centenarians, 4,699 third gender and 9.17 lakh first time voters.
Also, there are 12.15 lakh voters above the age of 80 and 5.55 lakh people with disabilities (PWD).
The state has 58,272 polling stations, including 24,063 in urban areas. The average voters in each station is 883.
Of these polling stations, 1,320 are women managed, 224 are youth managed and 224 are PWD managed.
There will be webcasting in 29,141 polling stations, the CEC said adding 1,200 are critical polling stations.
As most of the polling stations are in schools, these will have "permanent water, electricity, toilet and ramps." "These facilities will be permanent in nature. This is a gift from the ECI to the schools and to the school children," said Kumar, who is on a three-day visit to the state to review election preparedness.
To a query on possible election date, the CEC said it has to be conducted before May 24, when the tenure of the current state assembly comes to an end.
He directed the official machinery to gear up for a fair and transparent election in the state.
Replying to another question, Kumar said fake narratives and inducements pose big challenge.
On the number of phases in which the elections in Karnataka will be carried out, he said it is the prerogative of the Commission and it depends on various factors such as availability of force, exams and festivals.
The CEC warned officers indulging in partiality during election of strict action.
He further said banks have been instructed to keep a watch in their own way and through their own system to ensure money power is not misused during the election.