New Rules by ECI and Effectiveness of Multi-Phase Polling

Synopsis: New rules by the high court will help prevent a new surge after counting days. Election Commission of India also needs to reconsider the effectiveness of Multi-Phase Polling.

Introduction 

The Election Commission of India has banned victory celebrations after the election results are declared on May 2. ECI took the step after receiving criticism for not enforcing steps to control the spread of COVID-19 during the campaigns.  

What steps did the Election Commission of India take to curb the spread of the virus?
  • ECI Election Commission of India has restricted the number of people who can go with the winning candidate to meet the Returning Officer and collect the election certificate. 
  • The agents cannot enter the counting hall without a negative test report for COVID-19 or final vaccination reports. These strict rules are a welcome step.

However, it is unfortunate that these rules were missing or were not in force during the long campaign for elections.

What was the view of the court on ECI?

The Madras High Court stated that the ECI officials should bear great blame for the terrible spike in infections. 

  • The court’s expression of displeasure with ECI  Election Commission of India for failing to make all parties obey its rules was right. However, the suggestion by the Bench that ECI Election Commission of India officials should bear sole responsibility for the situation was avoidable.
  • But, the court’s advice that the counting process should not become a promoter for a new surge has definitely led to new rules for counting day.
Should multi-phase polling be a permanent practice?

The ECI Election Commission of India should reconsider its route to multi-phase polling as a permanent practice. 

  • Multi-phase voting has been protected for the last three decades as something compulsory. This is because of the time needed to move central forces to different parts of the country. Moreover, Security and sensitivity in select constituencies are also concerns.
  • However, a long campaign contributes to the build-up of tension. Covering an entire State in as few phases as possible will help localise the potential for violence. It will prevent the spread of tension due to the virulence of the campaign.
  • Further, it will also reduce the fatigue of forces deployed throughout the campaign till the day of counting. A shorter election may be a safer one too.

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