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Conducting elections amid a pandemic – Democracies share valuable insights at ECI webinar

Newdelhi:21/9/20: Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Sunil Arora, today underscored the commitment of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) across the world, for the conduct of timely, free, fair, and participatory elections to foster democracy in the world. Herecalledformer US President Abraham Lincoln’s allusion to democracies as governments“of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

CEC also recalled a quote by Nelson Mandela: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Speaking at the conclusion of the International Webinar on “Issues, Challenges, and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19: Sharing Country Experiences”, Shri Arora highlighted the common threads that emerged from the event.

CEC emphasized that today’s webinar brings out clearly the importance of training the officials involved with the conduct of elections.

During his intervention, Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra emphasized that in the shadow of COVID-19, elections have not only to be free and fair but also ensure safety for the electors as well as polling officials and security personnel on duty. He said that presentations from various countries show comprehensive preparedness required before, during, and after elections. The ultimate concern is to ensure that voters feel safe while voting in COVID times. He also emphasized effective communication with voters regarding safety protocols adopted by the Commission.

In his remarks, Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar noted that even amid the pandemic, electors have high expectations for the smooth conduct of elections. Mutual sharing of ideas and experiences of conducting elections amidst challenges of COVID19 at this webinar, will go a long way in introducing safety provisions and services with all protocols in place and will strengthen the democracies despite challenges posed. He further appealed to participating election bodies to reiterate the resolve to protect the political rights of citizens and thereby democratic processes and institutions.

Among the countries that made presentations were Fiji, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia,  Taiwan, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Malawi. The international organizations participating were International IDEA, A-WEB, and IFES.

The webinar provided an excellent opportunity for all the participants to exchange ideas and learn from each others’ experience of holding and managing elections in the challenging times of the COVID 19 pandemic, to ensure free, fair, transparent as well as safe elections.

About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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