The Telegraph
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Himachal assembly polls on Nov 9; date for Gujarat later but before Dec 18

Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti, flanked by commissioners Sunil Arora and O.P. Rawat, announcing the dates for Himachal Pradesh on Thursday.  PTI picture.

New Delhi, Oct. 12 (PTI): Assembly elections in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh will be held on November 9 and the results will be declared on December 18, the Election Commission announced on Thursday.

The schedule for Gujarat will be announced separately but assembly elections in the state will be held before December 18, Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti said at a press conference.

“This is being done to ensure that the voting pattern of one state does not affect the other state... polling in Gujarat will be held before December 18 (when the Himachal Pradesh results are announced),” he said.

While the tenure of the Himachal Pradesh assembly ends on January 7, 2018, the Gujarat assembly’s term ends on January 22.

“The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately,” Joti said while announcing the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh.

The Model Code of Conduct will be applicable for Himachal Pradesh as well as for the Union government in matters related to the state.

The poll process in Himachal Pradesh will start with the issue of the gazette notification on October 23, when candidates can start filing their nominations.

Joti, who was flanked by Election Commissioners O.P. Rawat and Sunil Arora, said the last date for filing of nominations is October 23.

Himachal Pradesh will be the second state after Goa that will be covered fully with VVPAT or vote-verified paper audit trail. The VVPAT machines will be deployed along with EVMs or electronic voting machines at all the 7,521 polling stations, including 42 auxiliary ones at remote places.

Joti said VVPAT machines from one polling booth in each of the 68 assembly constituencies would be tallied with EVM results to check the vote count.

In a first for Himachal Pradesh, the Election Commission will set up 136 polling booths managed only by women.

The Commission has also increased the size of the VVPAT paper trail screen, where voters can see who they have voted for.

Joti said photo electoral rolls will be used for Himachal polls and photo identity cards have been issued to all voters.

He said voter slips would be distributed to each voter in the state seven days before the polls along with a voter guide brochure.

The poll panel will also use social media in these elections and has already sensitised the election staff in this regard as well as on the issue of paid-news and pre-certification of advertisements and bulk SMSes.

The Election Commission will ensure timely payment of all goods and services through e-payment gateway for all election related duties for polls in the hill state.

Responding to queries on why elections in Gujarat had not been announced simultaneously, he said the imposition of the Model Code with immediate effect would stop all government work and there was no need to prolong it beyond the required period.

The CEC said elections to the two states were announced separately in the past too, including in 1993, 1994 and 2002.

Besides the issues of availability of central forces and the festive season, the Gujarat government had told the Commission that several relief and rehabilitation works were on in the state following the July floods, he said.

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