New Delhi: The Election Commission on Thursday increased polling time by two hours for upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections to enable greater participation of voters in the electoral process.
Now, people, including those living in hill areas, will be able to cast their votes between 7 AM and 6 PM while in Naxal-hit areas polling would be held between 7 am and 4 pm.
Polling was earlier held between 8 am and 5 pm while in North-East it started at 7 am.
The poll body has identified Naxal areas on the basis of assembly segments per parliamentary constituency.
Polling duration currently is of nine hours, which has now been increased to 11 hours.
EC feels since the elections will be held in summer, more voters will turn up to exercise their franchise towards the evening when the weather cools.
That would likely lead to long queues at polling stations as voting draws to a close.
This was one of the major reasons for increasing polling hours from nine to 11 hours.
The notification issued today for April 10 polls to six Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar also indicates poll hours from 7 am to 6 pm.
The increase in poll time also comes in view of a quantum jump in the number of voters across the country and the trend of bigger turnout in recent elections.
The full Commission, comprising Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and Election Commissioners H S Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, had discussed the issue recently and gave final nod before the issue of notification in this regard.
A total of 81.4 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections which begin on April 7 and end on May 12.
Of these voters, a total of about 10 crore are those whose names have been newly added on electoral rolls. The last Lok Sabha polls had a total of 71.3 crore electors.