BHOPAL: On a day when polling is being held to elect a 230-member assembly in Madhya Pradesh, the state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VL Kantha Rao has assured that elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling on Wednesday
In an exclusive conversation with Zee News Digital Opinion Editor Piyush Babele, the CEO said that the assembly elections in MP this time are unique since VVPAT machines are being used at all booths for the first time.
The VVPAT machine enables a voter to see if the vote is cast in favour of the desired candidate, removing apprehensions and doubts in his mind. Rao added that the VVPAT machines are being used in all five states where assembly elections are being held.
When asked to comment if the use of VVPAT machines will end criticism of the EVM machines, the CEO said that the poll panel is committed to holding free, fair and peaceful polling in the state and reiterated that the EVMs are fully safe and tamper-proof.
Rao further said around 78,870 EVMs will be used during the polls in MP.
Rao stated that the poll panel has introduced three Apps - Sugamya, QLess and Voting Percent - to help voters in the Madhya Pradesh.
The first App - Sugamya - will be most convenient for the handicapped persons. The registration of handicapped persons can be done through this App and passes will be given to volunteers and drivers to bring handicapped persons to the polling stations along with one attendant.
Rao added that through this App, the disabled voters can ask for facilities like transport, wheelchair before coming to polling booths to cast their votes.
He added that pregnant and nursing women can register themselves on the Sugamya App. If registered, pregnant women will get the facility of voting in the polling station without having to stand in the queue.
The QLess App will help voters to avoid standing in long queues and save their precious time, Rao added. The voters can take out the voter slip before casting their votes by using the QLess App.
The third App - Voting Percent - will inform people about the turnout at regular intervals on the day of polling, he said.
The CEO said that the poll panel has launched a dedicated campaign to create awareness among the voters, especially in remote and far-flung areas, and encourage them to vote in large numbers on the polling day.
Out of 5.04 crore eligible voters in the state, SMSes have been sent to nearly 1.5 crore voters whose mobile details were available with the poll panel, encouraging them to participate in the electoral exercise.
Besides, campaigns aimed at making people aware of their voting rights were also launched at schools and college levels, he said.
The CEO claimed that the poll panel had set a target of achieving a voter turnout of 80 percent against 70 percent registered during the last assembly elections in MP.
Shifting his focus to other issues, Rao said that as many as 1.80 lakh security personnel, including those drawn from central paramilitary forces, have been deployed to ensure a free and fair poll.
Rao said 3,00,782 government employees, including 45,904 women, have been deployed on poll duty across the state, where 65,341 polling stations have been set up.
The CEO said 17,000 of these polling booths have been declared 'sensitive' and additional vigil will be maintained there.
Special measures have been taken for sensitive booths. Webcasting will be held from 6,500 polling stations, while videography will be carried out at 4,600 booths, Rao said.
He said physically challenged employees will manage 160 booths, while 3,046 polling centres will have all-women staff.
"As many as 40,487 vehicles, including 9,600 buses and 8,500 mini buses will be used in the polling process," Rao said.