EC holds high level review, polls likely in Nov-Dec

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 17: The Election Commission today reviewed arrangements for upcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir with all 22 District Electoral Officers (DEOs) amidst indications that elections to the State Assembly would be held in November-December this year.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula told the Excelsior today that all arrangements for the forthcoming Assembly elections including increase in number of polling stations, updation of electoral rolls, requirement of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), security arrangements etc were reviewed in today’s meeting with all 22 DEOs of Jammu and Kashmir, who also happened to be the Deputy Commissioners of the districts, through video conferencing.
“The DEOs have been issued specific instructions about preparedness of Assembly elections and given time frame for taking particular steps for the polls. Another review meeting with the DEOs would be held soon to ensure that all arrangements were in place before announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission of India,’’ Narula said.
Though the election dates have to be announced by the Election Commission of India in consultations with the CEO of the State, there were enough indications that Assembly elections in the State would be held in November-December.
“Going by the preparations like revision of electoral rolls, weather scheduled, other arrangements etc, there were indications that Assembly elections would start somewhere in the first week of November and the Commission would like to complete them before December 20 when extreme cold conditions would set though the elections can even be extended till second week of January next year as the new Assembly had to be constituted before January 19,’’ official sources said.
They added that there had to be a gap of 15 to 20 days in announcement of election schedule and issuance of notification for first phase of the elections.
“As the Election Commission would publish final electoral rolls on October, an announcement of the election schedule for Jammu and Kashmir could be held a fortnight earlier,’’ sources said, adding generally the Election Commission had to wait for publication of electoral rolls before announcing the election schedule but under exceptional circumstances like weather conditions of Jammu and Kashmir, it could announce the schedule even a fortnight before the electoral rolls are published.
Under any circumstances, sources said, the election process in Jammu and Kashmir had to be completed before ‘Chillai Kalan’ (harsh part of winter) sets in on December 21. The polling beyond December 20 could lead to low turnout. Going by the indications, the Election Commission would start the first phase of elections in first week of November and complete it by December 15 or 20.
Sources said under Jammu and Kashmir law, there were four qualifying dates for summary revision of electoral rolls including January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1. As the elections here were due in November-December, the Election Commission has fixed October 1 as qualifying date for enrollment of new voters, who would turn 18 on October 1, 2014.
The enrollment of voters, claims and objections would be undertaken between July 17 and August 16 after draft rolls are published on July 17. The Election Commission would organize two special camps before elections on August 3 and 9 at polling stations in which the voters can check their names and apply for corrections, if any.
Narula said this is for the first time that October 1 has been fixed as qualifying date for enrollment of voters. In 2008 elections, January 1, 2008 had been taken as qualifying date for the elections.

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