Over 5K polling booths declared critical in Punjab ahead of June 1 voting; CEO Sibin C says 'Fully Prepared'

Punjab CEO Sibin C informed that over 2.14 crore voters will cast votes at 24,451 polling stations and comprehensive voter facilities and security arrangements are in place

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The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Punjab, Sibin C, announced that the CEO office is fully prepared to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections for the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 in the state. He emphasized that comprehensive arrangements have been made to provide all necessary facilities to voters and maintain a secure and peaceful voting environment in the state.
Addressing a Press Conference ahead of the elections, Sibin C informed that there are a total of 2,14,61,741 voters in the state. These include 1,12,86,727 males, 1,01,74,241 females, 773 transgenders, 1,58,718 PwD (Persons with Disabilities) voters, and 1614 NRI (Non-Resident Indian) voters. The number of first-time voters in the state is 5,38,715, while the number of voters aged 85 and above is 1,89,855. He added that 24,451 polling stations (PS) have been established in the state, out of which 5694 PS have been declared critical. 

What are critical polling booths?

As per reports, like every other election, the police send a list of booths marked as “critical” to the Election Commission of India (ECI). The parameters for categorising the booths are decided by the police and later by the ECI. Although there are multiple factors depending on which the ECI considers a polling booth as critical, one fact is that if there is any kind of violence that may have taken place in the past. For instance, North East Delhi witnessed violent communal clashes just a year after the last general elections in 2019. It will have around 255 polling stations, of which the police have marked 55 as critical.

Different colour booths significance in Punjab

There are 1076 Model PS, 165 Pink Booths managed exclusively by women, 115 Green PS, 99 Youth Managed PS, and 101 PS managed by Divyangs. All polling stations will be monitored by CCTV cameras, and there will be 100% live webcasting to allow real-time monitoring by election officials and observers. The counting of votes would take place at 117 Counting centres, at 24 Locations, he added.

Regarding Home Voting, Sibin C stated that the consent for home voting was received from 9239 85+ age voters, and 4530 PwD voters, both totalling 13,769. Out of these 12,843 voters casted their vote till 30 May, including 8640 85+ voters and 4203 PwD voters.

Divulging the details about personnel involved, Sibin C stated that the total number of staff engaged in the elections in the state is 2,60,000. This includes 1,20,114 polling staff, 70,724 security personnel (state police and central armed paramilitary forces), 50,000 supporting staff, and 25,150 persons working in the CEO (Chief Electoral Officer) and DEO (District Election Officer) offices.

'Chabeel' facility to counter heatwave during Punjab Lok Sabha Elections 2024

The CEO emphasized that polling staff have been trained to manage emergencies effectively. ASHA workers will be deputed at polling stations to handle emergency medical situations. Polling stations will be equipped with first aid kits, oral rehydration solution (ORS), sugar candies, medicines, ointments, and bandages. Additionally, to combat the heat wave, ‘Chabeel’ facility is also being provided at the polling stations. He added that, the 85+ and Pwd Voters, who did not opt for Home Voting can get the 'Pick and Drop Facility' along with wheelchairs, by registering on the Saksham application.

  CEO Sibin C detailed that 24 Central and State enforcement agencies along with Flying Squads and Static Surveillance Teams are actively conducting checks to seize cash, liquor, and other items intended for voter inducement. Since the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct until May 30, seizures  worth 801.47 crore have made in the state including ₹26.89 crore in cash, liquor worth ₹26.75 crore, narcotics valued at ₹716.78 crore, freebies worth ₹7.17 crore, and precious metals worth ₹23.86 crore.

On MCC in Punjab

The CEO reported that a total of 14643 Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violation complaints have been received since enforcement of MCC, out of which most have been resolved. The average time to handle complaints in the state is 32.50 minutes, well within the mandated 100-minute timeframe.

Regarding EVM security, Sibin C stated that all strong rooms in the state are equipped with the necessary security forces, including state and paramilitary personnel, and have a double lock system. Additionally, LED screens displaying footage of the strong room surroundings are placed outside each strong room. Daily inspections by officials ensure all protocols are being followed.

Regarding security measures in the state,  Police Nodal Officer M F Farooqui elaborated that 55039 Personnel of the Punjab Police have been deployed across the state. Quick Response Teams would be positioned for rapid intervention in case of disturbances. He apprised that the whole state has been divided into 2098 Sectors, each headed by a Sector incharge assisted by a Patrolling Party consisting of 1 Head Constable and 3 Constables. To enhance the communication between security personnel, 3496 additional wireless sets of 20 Watts and 8385 wireless walkie-talkie sets have been provided to the districts, he added.

CEO Sibin C appealed to the esteemed voters of Punjab to actively participate in this biggest festival of democracy exercising their right to vote, so that the goal of “Is Vaar 70 Paar” can be achieved.