Keep a close eye on candidates’ virtual campaign spending, CEC tells poll watchers | India News

NEW DELHI: With the current Covid situation forcing parties and candidates to focus on digital campaign modes in polls across the five states, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra on Friday ordered election observers to closely monitor spending engaged by candidates on the virtual campaign, in addition to monitoring adherence to Covid safety standards by political party leaders and candidates and reporting any violations for necessary action.
Sources said the EC will release a revised set of guidelines for observers on tracking candidate spending for digital forms of campaigning.
The standards, likely to be released on Saturday, will set out how digital campaigning will be counted and reconciled with the records kept by candidates, at the end of the campaign day. Candidates will also be familiarized with the standards so that they can justify their virtual outreach expenses accordingly.
Briefing nearly 900 observers – general, expenditure and police – who will be deployed to the five electoral states of UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, Chandra also highlighted the need for observers to be accessible and visible as they monitor the polling process.
In addition to monitoring compliance with Covid standards for voting and voter safety, the CEC instructed observers to ensure a hassle-free experience for voters, including persons with disabilities, by visiting the maximum number of booths and ensuring that SVEEP activities are undertaken. on the ground to achieve higher turnout, especially among women voters.
Addressing the observers – drawn from the IAS, IPS, IRS and other central departments – at the meeting held in hybrid mode, Chandra described the observers as the “eyes and ears”. of EC and asked them to be vigilant against any failure of the model code. of conduct and other guidelines.
Insisting on the EC’s zero tolerance for abuse of monetary power or any kind of incentives, the CEC urged spending watchers to be innovative in tackling new methods of incentivising .
Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said observers play a vital role in the conduct of elections and therefore must be accessible and visible to voters, candidates and political parties to respond personally to their suggestions and redress of grievances. . He warned observers that they are still subject to strict, microscopic scrutiny and therefore must be careful and discreet about their own conduct during the electoral process.
Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, while emphasizing the increased role of virtual campaigning at present, mentioned the need to reduce disinformation and hate campaigns on social media platforms.

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