The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday while announcing the schedule for the Bihar Assembly elections said that in order to decongest the polling stations, polling time has been increased by 1 hour.

“To further decongest polling stations and allow more free movement of voters, polling time has been increased by 1 hour. It’ll be held from 7 am-6 pm, instead of 7 am-5 pm earlier. However, this will not be applicable to Left-wing affected areas,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told.

For the quarantined coronavirus patients, the ECI has allowed the casting of votes on the last day of poll.

“Covid patients who’re quarantined will be able to cast their vote on the last day of poll, at their respective polling stations, under the supervision of health authorities,” CEC said.

“This is beside the option of postal facility already extended to them,” he added.

“The term of assembly in the state of Bihar is due to expire on 29th November, 2020. Bihar assembly has strength of 243 members, of whom 38 seats are reserved for SCs and two for STs,” he told.

At the press conference, the Chief Election Commissioner said, “Over 7 lakh hand sanitiser units, about 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of faces-shields, 23 lakh (pairs of) hand gloves arranged. For voters specifically, 7.2 crore single-use hand gloves arranged.”

Election Commission had already issued the broad guidelines for the conduct of the election.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, the ECI had sought suggestions of the National/State Political Parties for the conduct of elections.

As per the guidelines, a maximum of 1,000 voters can be present at any polling booth at a time, and every voter’s body temperature will be checked before the person is allowed to enter the booth.

Face Mask, Sanitizer, Thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter register and pressing button of EVM for voting.