Out of a total of 18.34 crore electors who will take part in the upcoming assembly polls for five states, nearly 47% are women, the Election Commission of India (ECI) informed on Saturday.

The commission has also mandated that at least one polling station managed exclusively by women shall be set up in every Assembly constituency.

The ECI made these announcements while sharing the schedule for the upcoming Assembly elections in Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh on January 8.       

The CEC added during the briefing that the figures in terms of women’s participation in the elections were encouraging, with a noticeable increase in all the five states as compared to the previous time. Uttar Pradesh witnessed a maximum increase of 29 points, followed by Goa (24), Manipur (19), Uttarakhand (18), and Punjab (10).

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With this result, the gender ratio for various states is as under:

Goa: 1056

Manipur: 1065

Punjab: 902

Uttarakhand: 928

Uttar Pradesh: 868

Further, as many as 24.9 lakh first-time electors have been registered in these states, out of which 11.4 lakh are women. 

These changes will empower women and set an example for them to come forward and cast their votes, the CEC said. 

A similar arrangement for mandatory exclusively-managed polling stations will also be made for Persons With Disabilities (PWD).

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The commission said that the upcoming elections would be held with three things in mind: COVID-safe polling, maximum voter participation, and hassle-free polling for voters.

CEC Sushil Chandra announced that the EC had consulted the Union Health Secretary, Home Secretary, experts, as well as health secretaries of states and Union Territories (UTs) to take stock of the COVID-situation on the ground.  

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As per its discussions, the ECI has announced several protocols for the upcoming polls. This would include the sanitisation of all polling stations, an increase in the number of booths to avoid overcrowding, extension in the polling times, and postal ballots for vulnerable people.

The commission has said that no roadshows, marches, cycle or bike rallies will be allowed in the poll-bound states till January 15 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but the situation will be constantly monitored and fresh instructions may be issued later.