NEW DELHI: Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand will be held in five phases between November 25 and December 20 and counting of votes will take place on December 23, the Election Commission announced today.
Polling in both states will take place on November 25, December 2, 9, 14 and 20, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said at a press conference here.
By-elections to three assembly seats in Delhi, which fell vacant after their MLAs resigned following their victories in Lok Sabha polls, will be held on November 25.
Brushing aside demands from some quarters, mainly the ruling National Conference, that elections in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir be postponed, Sampath said the recent calamity will have no "special impact" on polls.
He said post-flood situation, along with other aspects like climate, festivals and law and order situation, have been taken into account while deciding the poll schedule.
"Except for one political party, most of the political parties (in Jammu and Kashmir) were in favour of holding elections on time. They said there is no reason, no justification for delaying the polls. The EC's mandate is to hold elections on time," he said.
The current six-year term of Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly comes to an end on January 16. Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 87 seats and Jharkhand has
81 seats. In Jammu and Kashmir, seven seats are reserved for SCs while in Jharkhand, nine seats are reserved for SCs and STs, respectively.
Number of electors in Jammu and Kashmir as per electoral rolls is 72.25 lakhs and 207.44 lakhs in Jharkahnd, the CEC said.
Altogether 10,015 polling stations will be set up in Jammu and Kashmir and 24,648 in Jharkahnd.
To facilitate the voters to know where he/she is enrolled as a voter at a particular polling station and what is his/her serial number in the electoral roll, the Commission has directed that voter slip along with Photo (wherever present in the roll) will be distributed to all enrolled voters by the District Election Officer.
It has also been directed that the said voter slip should be in the languages in which electoral roll is published for that Assembly Constituency, Sampath said.
Voters can also exercise the None of The Above (NOTA) option.
"The Commission is taking steps to bring this to the knowledge of voters and all other stakeholders and to train all field level officials including the polling personnel about the NOTA option," a Commission statement said. Identification of the voters at the polling booth at the time of poll will be done through the Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC), the coverage of which is 91 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir and 99.06 per cent in Jharkhand.
Like the recently-held Lok Sabha elections, the EC will use the 'paper trail' in three assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir and seven assembly constituencies in Jharkhand.
The paper trail or voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.
Following a September, 2013 Supreme Court directive, candidates who fail to fill up all columns in their affidavits would be issued a notice by the returning officer. If they still fail to complete the affidavit, it is "liable to be rejected", the CEC said.