Polling for first phase begins on brisk note in Bihar

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Patna, October 28: Polling at 71 places of the 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar began on a brisk note on Wednesday morning during the fist phase of elections.

Nearly 7 per cent voters had cast their votes during the first three hours of one of the biggest electoral exercise globall being held during prevailing COVID-19 situation. There were long queues at polling stations most of which were in Naxal affected areas.

As part of SOPs to deal with the COVID-19 during the polling, only 1,000 voters will be allowed at a polling booth at a time, apart from stagerring the polling hours and extending postal ballot facility for those above 80. Thermal scanners, hand sanitiser, soap and water have also to be ensured for the voters at polling stations. 

A total of 1,066 candidates are in the fray in 71 constituencies whose fate will be decided by more than two crore voters. Of them, 952 are men and 114 women. 

As many as 33 of the constituencies going to polls in the first phase have been declared as sensitive or hypersensitive constituencies. A total of 31,371 polling stations have been set up for the first phase and as many Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used.

Central Armed Police Forces and Bihar Police and Home Guards have been deployed in strength at all polling stations and the buildings housing them.

Special security arrangements have been made for the Naxal-affected areas as most of these areas are going to polls during the first phase.

Announcing the election schedule for the 243-member assembly on September 25, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had said that polls will open as usual at 7 am but the voting hour will be extended by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Naxal affected areas, so that COVID-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day.