Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Lok Sabha elections: Biggest peacetime movement of men, material in world

Elections for the 18th Lok Sabha will begin on April 19 followed by subsequent phases on April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 & June 1

- NEW DELHI:

Holding of Lok Sabha elections is a mammoth exercise that entails the biggest peacetime movement of men and material in the world through waterways, air and land across India to ensure no voter is left behind.

The Election Commission, mandated to hold the gigantic democratic exercise starts preparing for the polls at least oneand-a-half years in advance by training officials, poll personnel and ramping up the supply of required EVMs and indelible ink, besides other equipment.

The elections for the 18th Lok Sabha will begin on April 19 followed by subsequent phases on April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

Nearly 97 crore registered voters across 543 constituen­cies will cast their ballot at 10.5 lakh polling stations.

Around 1.5 crore polling and security personnel, about 55 lakh EVMs, and four lakh

vehicles will be deployed for the polls, according to the poll authority.

As early as in June last year, the EC had initiated “first-level checks” of EVMs and paper trail machines across the country in a phased manner.

“Mock polls” are part of the first level check (FLC) process to ensure parties are satisfied with the machines.

The EC issues a calendar for such exercises and there are standing instructio­ns that are to be followed by state chief

electoral officers. During FLCs, electronic voting machines and paper trail machines are checked for mechanical flaws by engineers of BEL and ECIL, the two PSUs which manufactur­e the two equipment.

Faulty machines are returned to the manufactur­ers for repair or replacemen­t.

A mock poll is also held to check the two machines in the presence of representa­tives of political parties.

While it puts the required equipment and infrastruc­ture in place, the poll panel also starts interactin­g with its officials at the state level to understand their requiremen­ts.

State chief electoral officers are called for sessions where they share best practices and learn from each others’ experience in election management, voter awareness and preventing malpractic­es which can disturb level playing field during polls.

A key component of election management is the deployment of security personnel and their movement by trains, boats and helicopter­s.

To firm up the plan, the EC top brass holds meeting with senior officials of the Union home ministry and Railways. Comfortabl­e stay and hygienic food for security and polling personnel also requires planning at the grass-roots level.

While the EC is busy sending the required number of EVMs in states ahead of polls, the Mysore Paints and Varnish

Ltd gets ready to complete its order of providing indelible ink.

This time it has been tasked with providing over 26 lakh vials of indelible ink, which leaves a deep purple mark on a voter’s left forefinger, to various states.

The Karnataka government undertakin­g has been manufactur­ing the ink since 1962, solely for the Election Commission.

The ink is applied on the left forefinger of a person as proof that she or she has cast the vote.

One 10 ml vial can ink 700 people. Every polling station has 1,500 voters, which means two vials of ink is needed per polling station.

Ahead of voting day, EVMs are carried to the polling stations. Once the voting ends, the machines are brought back to the strong room where they are kept under three layers of lock.

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