For the people
THE WEEK|March 28, 2021
How the election machinery reinvented itself ahead of the Bihar assembly polls in 2020
H.R. SRINIVASA

The elections to the Bihar legislative assembly were scheduled for October-November 2020. But, schools were shut after the pandemic struck, and more than 80 per cent of our booth level officers were school teachers. Getting them to the field was a mammoth task. Also, more than 90 per cent of our polling stations are schools. Since they had been closed for a long time, facilities such as toilets and drinking water needed a fresh look.

About 30 lakh migrants returned to Bihar. We identified three lakh people who were yet to be enrolled, and we finished enrolling 2.4 lakh of them before the elections were announced. The number of female voters as compared with male voters was 894 as on February 7, 2020, when the electoral roll was published. By the time the election process began, it had reached 904, quite close to the state average of 918. Even the elector to population ratio rose from 0.49 to 0.51. Altogether, we enrolled 18 lakh, new voters, in five months.

You cannot hold elections sitting in offices and homes. It involves mass contact. So it was a big challenge to maintain social distancing and ensure that Covid-19 protocols were followed. We identified grounds where a safe distance of six feet could be maintained between two people and chose only those buildings which had proper ventilation. The lists of these buildings and grounds were published in all the major newspapers of Bihar and also posted on our website to enable political parties or candidates to book them online for their campaign.

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