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Political parties have to publish candidates’ criminal records on website, TV channels: ECI

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, who is in Goa to review poll preparations, said parties will also have to give a reason why they could not find a clean candidate.

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Panaji: Political parties will have to publish the criminal antecedents of their candidates in newspapers, television channels and on their websites, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said on Wednesday, while assuring that systems are in place to ensure free and fair elections for the Goa Legislative Assembly.

Political parties will also have to give reason why they have chosen him/her and why they could not find a clean candidate, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra told reporters here.

The ECI’s team is in Goa to review preparations for the forthcoming Legislative Assembly polls.

Chandra said the ECI has introduced a facility to allow people of more than 80 years of age to vote from home.

The facility of casting vote at home for those aged 80 plus is optional, if they want to come to the polling booth, they can do, he said adding that around 30,000 people above the age of 80 years in Goa.

The voting at home would be video-graphed and the vote would be kept in a secret ballot, he added.

The term of the present Goa Legislative Assembly is due to expire by March 15, 2022, Chandra said.

The ECI reiterates its commitment to conduct free, fair, peaceful, accessible, inducement-free and COVID-19-free elections so that it should be safe for all the voters, he said.

Goa has always been reporting a high voting percentage. In 2017 (Assembly polls), it was 81.21 per cent and in 2012, it was 82.25 per cent, Chandra said.

During a recent exercise, total 30,598 new voters were enrolled, of whom 16,807 are first time voters, he said.

There are 11.56 lakh total voters in the state, he said.

Chandra said that keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing norms, the maximum number of electorate is reduced from 1,500 to 1,000 per polling booth in Goa, due to which additional 60 polling stations have been introduced, taking the total to 1,722 polling stations in the state.

He also said that around 100 polling stations would be completely managed by women.

This will help women electorate to come with confidence to these (polling) stations. At least, four-five polling stations would also be managed by people with disabilities, he added.

He also said no name would be deleted (from the electoral rolls) in the wake of the passage of an electoral reforms bill in Parliament.

There is a particular reason for linking of the Aadhaar card and the voter’s card. The electoral roll will be clean after that, he said.

I can assure you that no name would be deleted without giving you choices. There are absolute safeguards (in the Bill), he said, adding that these reforms were pending for last 25 years.

Talking about the inclusion of names of young voters above the age of 18, he said now there are four dates per year to get enrolled, otherwise January 1 was the deadline.

The CEC said this reform allows young voters four chances to get enrolled in a year, instead of one.

You should tell others that this the most important reform that has taken place since 1951, when the Act came into force, he added.

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