Election Commission: Tests facilitated for 90% of counting staff

The Election Commission (EC) said Saturday that close to 90 percent of the 1.5 lakh counting agents of candidates who contested Assembly elections in four states and one UT have been “facilitated” to test for Covid-19 infection ahead of counting on May 2.

For the remaining, the EC said, Covid-19 tests were arranged by the respective District Election Officers (DEOs). “The Commission has also directed to accept test reports from any authorised lab,” the EC’s release states.

The Commission has more than doubled the number of counting halls — from 1002 in 2016 to 2,364 this time — to follow social distancing and other Covid-safety measures. That apart, 1,100 counting observers have been deputed to step in case of any “pandemic-related replacement.”

Counting on Sunday will be performed by approximately 95,000 officials including micro observers. The EC this week made it mandatory for all contesting candidates and their polling agents to either test negative for Covid-19 or show proof of having received both doses of vaccines to enter the counting centres on May 2. This instruction is part of the Commission’s detailed Covid-19 protocol released Wednesday for the counting day when the results of the Assembly elections held in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry will be declared.

The instructions come a few days after the Madras High COurt came down heavily on the EC for “not stopping political parties” from violating Covid protocols during their campaign rallies last month.

Source link