The Election Commission of India today started the distribution and dispatch of designated ballot boxes, ballot papers, special pens, and other sealed election materials to the State Legislative Assembly Secretariats including the National Capital Territory of Delhi and UT of Puducherry for conduction of Presidential Election-2022 scheduled on July 18, 2022.
State Chief Electoral Officer Manish Garg said that this material was received in Shimla today under the supervision of Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) cum Secretary HP Legislative Assembly Yashpal Sharma. He said that as per the instructions of the ECI, this material was transported from Delhi under strict security and kept safe in the strong room set up in the Vidhan Sabha complex, shimla here. He said that all the arrangements for the Presidential election have been completed. Additional CEO Dalip Negi, Assistant CEO Rajesh Dogra and other officers were also present on the occasion.
He said that two-day exercise at Nirvachan Sadan, New Delhi for dispatch of election materials to States/UTs in a time bound and secured manner was also undertaken under the supervision of Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey.
The Commission mandates the collection of the election materials from the ECI Headquarters at Delhi by Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) including one senior officer from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer. Once they reach Delhi, officer are also assisted at the help desk at the Delhi Airport manned by the officials of the Election Commission of India, Civil Aviation, Delhi Police, and CISF.
Ballot boxes along with other essential election materials are handed over to the AROs under appropriate security and safety measures after complete inspection at Nirvachan Sadan, New Delhi. Delhi Police teams escort the AROs while they come to collect the election material. The AROs return to their respective States/UTs on the same day as the collection of the election materials.
During the transportation, the Ballot Boxes fly on a separate air ticket in the front row of aircrafts beside the seat of the officer transporting the materials under personal supervision.While speaking to the AROs from the states, CEC Rajiv Kumar emphasized that strict adherence to procedures by the ECI teams has become its hallmark in delivering error free elections time and again.
He added that a set of well-defined instructions and Standard Operating Procedures that are required to be followed thoroughly to complete every electoral process account for ECI’s robustness for conducting elections. He asked the officials to be vigilant and ensure strict adherence to protocols and guidelines for transportation and storage of election materials including ballot boxes and ballot papers.
Once the officers with ballot boxes reach the state capitals, these are stored in previously sanitised and properly sealed strong rooms under strict videography monitoring. Ballot papers for Presidential Election are also stored and sealed along with. After the poll is over, the polled and sealed Ballot boxes and other election material have to be transported back to the Office of Returning Officer that is Rajya Sabha Secretariat by the next available flight.
The boxes and other documents are carried personally in the aircraft cabins - never out of sight of accompanying officers.The Commission has already issued specific guidelines for conduct of polls and AROs and Observers are trained as such. A workshop for the RO, AROs and CEOs was also organized on 13th June, 2022 at Vigyan Bhawan to brief them on all aspects of election procedure for the conduct of Presidential elections.
The Commission has also appointed 37 Observers for overseeing the arrangements of polling and counting during elections and a briefing meeting of these Observers was also organized on 11th July 2022. The Observers are senior IAS Officers of the rank of Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary, Government of India.
The Commission has deployed one Observer for overseeing polling at each of the 30 places of poll in the State/UT Legislative Assemblies and 2 observers for Parliament House. The designated Observers will take stock of election arrangements made for security and transportation of ballot boxes and election material by the ROs and AROs and ensure free and fair elections. The Observers deputed at Parliament House will also oversee the counting process of votes on 21st July, 2022.