The Election Commission announced the schedule for conducting world’s largest democratic exercise – the 17th Lok Sabha Election dates on Sunday evening. As per the schedule, voting will be held across India in seven phases: April 11, April 19, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19.
With a total of 900 million eligible voters, including 15 million who have just turned 18 years old to become newly eligible voters – India is getting ready for the colossal electoral practice – the Lok Sabha Election 2019. Besides the size, the just-announced election dates indicate the onset of the most significant general polls since 1977 after the country went through dark 21 months of emergency. As the code of conduct comes into effect, the Election Commission starts preparing for the 7-phased general election instead of the usual 9-phased polls, and the announcement of results on May 23, 2019.
The schedule – which will cover assembly polls for four states: Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha along with the parliamentary polls. The announcement for Kashmir assembly will soon be made by chief election commissioner Sunil Arora at Vigyan Bhavan. However, the Election Commission’s decision to not hold Jammu and Kashmir assembly parallel to the Lok Sabha polls is seen as a partisan move because if voters of four states can cast a ballot to elect their Lok Sabha member and their state legislators at the same time, then why not J&K.
The number of phases for general election has been cut down from regular 9 phases to 7, and three states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal are marked for polling in every single phase. The Election Commission has proposed an increase in the number of polling booths and the number of voting machines for a smoother exercise. Also, unlike 2014, each voting machine will now have the voter verified paper audit trail aka VVPAT mechanism attached to it.