Nine days, five weeks

    India votes between April 7 and May 12

    NEW DELHI, MARCH 5: The process of constituting the 16th Lok Sabha got underway on March 5 with the Election Commission announcing the poll schedule. Polling to elect 543 members to the Lok Sabha will be spread over nine days, between April 7 and May 12. Simultaneously, elections will also be held for three State Assemblies: Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.

    With the announcement of poll dates, the model code of conduct, which prohibits the Government from taking any policy decisions that can influence the decision of a voter, comes into effect. The counting of votes for both the Lok Sabha and Assemblies will take place on May 16 and all the results are expected to be announced on the same day, Chief Election Commissioner V Sampath told newspersons here on Wednesday.

    Nine-day affair
    The Lok Sabha election process is spread over nine days and not over nine phases, Sampath said and added that 814 million electors will be eligible to cast their vote, an increase of about 10 crore voters from the last General Elections, in 2009. The 21 States that will complete the election process in a day include Tamil Nadu (April 24), Karnataka (April 17), Delhi and Kerala (April 10). In five States, including Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan, elections will be spread over two days while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will complete the process over six poll days.

    Young voters
    Over 23 million voters in the 18-19 years age group have been added to the electoral rolls, constituting 2.88 per cent of the electorate, up from 0.75 per cent in the last elections. There will also be a 12 per cent increase in the number of polling stations across the country with 930,000 polling stations to be set up, compared to 830,000 during the last elections, Sampath said. Electronic voting machines will be used at all polling stations.

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    In order to ensure that the maximum number of people exercise their franchise, the Election Commission has directed that a special camp be organised on March 9 during which people can view the electoral rolls. Those whose names are missing can fill up application forms and get their voter cards. The poll schedule has been drawn keeping in mind the weather conditions in various parts of the country and the examination schedule, as educational institutions and personnel are deployed for poll duty, and also to ensure that the elections are peaceful, Election Commission officials said.

    Sampath added that adequate steps had been taken to prevent the use of black money. On the issue of elections in Andhra Pradesh, Sampath said: “We conduct elections according to the law, whether they are for Assembly or Parliamentary constituencies, as per description of the State today. When the new State comes into being, as per law, elected representatives will automatically become MPs and MLAs of the newly created State from the appointed day. It is seamless.” The total cost of the elections is estimated at ?4,000 crore, officials said.

    Poll dates
    ● April 7 polling will cover six constituencies in two states.
    ● April 9 will cover seven constituencies in five states.
    ● April 10 to cover 92 constituencies in 14 states.
    ● April 12 to cover three States and five constituencies.
    ● April 17, the largest chunk of 122 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in 13 states.
    ● April 24 will cover 117 constituencies in 12 States.
    ● April 30 in 89 constituencies in nine states.
    ● May 7 will be held in seven States covering 64 constituencies.
    ● May 12 will cover three States and 41 constituencies.

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