NEW DELHI: The Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections will be held on November 9. The counting of votes however, will take place on December 18. The large gap between the two dates is because the Gujarat Assembly elections will be held in between. Presumably, the Election Commission has decided to hold the Himachal Pradesh elections earlier to avoid the harsh winters of the Himalayan state.
The Election Commission has said the dates of the Gujarat Assembly election will be announced later. The counting for both states would be held together. This, Chief Election Commissioner AK Jyoti said, is aimed at ensuring that the result of the Himachal elections does not affect the outcome in Gujarat.
The Model Code of Conduct came into force in Himachal Pradesh with immediate effect after the anouncement.
The term of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly comes to an end on January 7, 2018.
The Election Commission also announced a number of steps it would be taking in the Himachal Pradesh polls. The election will see the use of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) with all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). This means votes will be able to visually verify if the vote they have cast has indeed gone to the candidate of their choice. The move is aimed at quashing allegations of EVM fraud and hacking that emerge from time to time after elections.
Other means aimed at making the process easier for voters include an increase in the height of the booth to improve privacy and a larger display so voters can get a clear look at their VVPAT verifications. The VVPAT flash will be displayed for seven seconds to allow for verification.
The EC said it would also monitor campaigning and canvassing through social media, social networking, bulk SMS, recorded phone messages and video calls. The Election Commission would also use social media to improve its own election management operations.
Another major initiative CEC Jyoti announced, perhaps in response to global trends, was the introduction of a three-tabbed media monitoring solution to combat paid news and fake news.