Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora  Bihar polls
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora wears a mask at a press conference to announce the schedule for Bihar Assembly Elections 2020, at a press conference, in New Delhi, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Voting for Bihar assembly elections will be held in three phases - October 28, November 3 and November 7 - while counting of all votes will take place on November 10, the Election Commission announced on Friday. Announcing to the poll schedule for the 243-member Bihar assembly, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said these will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

He said the world has changed significantly since the last elections which were held for Delhi assembly and the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal in every aspect of our life.

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He said the voting time will be extended by one hour and votes could be cast from 7 am till 6 pm, except for extremist-affected areas. COVID-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day, Arora said. He also said special protocols have been readied for voters who are COVID-positive patients.

The EC said 700,000 hand sanitisers, 4.6 million masks, 600,000 PPE kits, 670,000 face shields and 2.3 million pairs of gloves have been arranged for Bihar polls.

Besides, postal ballot facility will be provided wherever required and requested. Social distancing norms will need to be followed at public gatherings during the poll campaign.

Arora said anyone using social media for mischievous purposes, such as for flaring communal tension, during elections will have to face consequences, while hate speech will also be dealt with harshly by the Election Commission. He said the number of phases for 243-member Bihar assembly polls has been reduced keeping in mind security arrangements and festive season, among other factors. Voting for the first phase on October 28 will cover 71 assembly constituencies, while the second-phase voting on November 3 will cover 94 seats. The third phase of voting on November 7 will cover 78 assembly seats.

Counting of votes for all seats will take place on November 10.