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News18 Daybreak | Seven-phase Polls to Begin From April 11, Results to be Declared on May 23 and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For

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The voting will take place in 7 phases and will involve close to 90 crore people. The polling will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19 for 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country. The results will be declared on May 23.

Assembly elections will also be held in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls. The EC, however, decided to not conduct the scheduled state polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

The EC decides: Here’s a list of the important announcements made by the Chief Election Commissioner in a press conference in the national capital on Sunday.

1. The EC has decided that voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) will be used in all polling stations in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Earlier, several opposition leaders, including Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, had raised questions about ‘mischiefs’ in the EVMs.

2. In a controversial move, the CEC said that they will not be holding simultaneous Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been under President’s Rule after the ruling alliance between the BJP and People’s Democratic Party fell apart last year.

3. The EC also announced several measures to monitor and regulate content being spread on the next big campaigning medium – social media. This will include dedicated officers on social media platforms including Google and Facebook.

4. Although the EC decreased the overall number of phases from 9 in 2014 to 7, the decision to increase the number in states like Madhya Pradesh and Odisha might become a point of contention. The elections will be spread over 4 days in both these states this time. The number of phases has been increased in cases of Maharashtra (4 phase), Uttar Pradesh (7 phase) and West Bengal (7 phase).

Poll dates: Along with the Lok Sabha elections, the assembly polls are slated to be held in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls. Ten lakhs polling stations would be set up this time as against about nine lakhs in 2014.

Polling for parliamentary and assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal and Sikkim will be held in the first phase on April 11. Parliamentary and assembly polls will be held in Odisha across the first four phases.

Find out when elections will take place in your constituency here.

He said she said: Political party leaders of Jammu & Kashmir hit out at the Election Commission’s decision to not hold simultaneous assembly polls in the state. J&K National Conference’s leader Omar Abdullah in a Twitter post said, “First time since 1996 Assembly elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership.”

J&K Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet described the decision as a “sinister design of the gov”. “Not letting people elect a government is antithetical to the very idea of democracy. Also a tactic of buying time to disempower people by pushing an agenda that suits their ulterior motives,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, following the announcement of Lok Sabha election dates (to be held in seven phases in West Bengal) by the Election Commission on Sunday, political parties in the state are divided over some of the dates that are clashing with Ramzan (May 5-June 4, 2019).

“People will face problems in exercising their voting rights as some poll dates are clashing with Ramzan. Since the Election Commission is a constitutional body, I don’t want to comment much into the matter. But they should have considered that people will suffer during Ramzan (in casting votes),” Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Firhad Hakim said.

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