The Election Commission of India (ECI) made several announcements on January 8, 2022,  pertaining to the upcoming Assembly Elections to be held in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur

They shared numbers for the current voters, marking a significant uptick in female voters. Further, the ECI shared protocols to be followed to ensure a safe and smooth voting experience, in view of COVID-19

Here are the key takeaways – 

1. Increased women participation

The elections in five states will see a total of over 18 crore voters, including 8.55 crore women voters. The ECI deemed it a promising sign that women voters are up in all states, with the maximum increase in Uttar Pradesh. 

Moreover, one polling station managed exclusively by women will be present in each constituency. 

2. COVID safety protocols for voting

The ECI emphasized the COVID safety protocols that are of primary concern, especially due to the fear of the omicron variant spreading in the nation. Firstly, steps have been taken to ensure sanitisers, thermal scanning, masks, and gloves are there in every station. 

The officials in charge of conducting the election, are doubly vaccinated and have been identified as frontline workers, making them eligible for the precautionary dose as per the Centre’s announcement. 

3. Shift to digital 

The ECI has placed a strict ban on political processions, roadside shows, or any other physical campaigns ahead of the elections until January 15. Thus, parties will be forced to rely on digital campaigns and communication

Thus, the candidate expenditure has been increased to Rs 40 lakh from Rs 28 lakh. Further, the air time that candidates will get has been doubled too. 

4. Reduced polling booths, increased polling hours

The number of voters per polling booths has been brought down to 1250, from the earlier 1500. Hence, the polling time has been increased by an hour too. 

5. Directions to candidates and parties 

The ECI mandated that all parties have to upload details of pending criminal cases, if any, for their candidates of choice. Further, the reason behind the choice will have to be clarified as well. Political parties can also ask for this information on the Suvidha app. 

Also Read | Lessons forgotten: Election rallies in India help in surge of COVID-19

A maximum of five people can go for door to door campaigns. When any processions do take place, they have to follow strict COVID-19 guidelines.

No victory processions to take place after results, and only two people can accompany the winning candidate.