Karnataka parties for advancing polling hour in peak summer

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Bangalore, April 8 (IANS) Political parties in Karnataka Monday petitioned the Election Commission to advance the timing of polling hour for the legislative assembly poll May 5 to 7 a.m. from 8 a.m. to enable the electorate to vote early in peak summer.

“All the three main parties – Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and Janata Dal-Secular want polling to commence at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. to facilitate the electorate to reach booths early and cast their votes, as May 5 will be a very hot Sunday across the state in peak summer,” a state official said here.

The representation was made to the three-member poll panel headed by Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and S.N.A. Zaidi at a meeting with the political parties contesting in the ensuing election.

Polling has been scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the 224 assembly segments across the state and counting May 8.

The poll panel is on a two-day visit to the city to review the arrangements for the single-phase assembly election as the five-year tenure of the current assembly ends June 3.

It will Tuesday meet officials, including police personnel engaged in the election process to ensure a free and fair poll.

The parties also asked the poll panel to arrange for a single point clearance for electioneering to save time and resources. They mainstream parties also brought to the notice of the EC about the misuse of official machinery, distribution of gifts to voters and faulty electoral rolls.

“The parties have sought the EC’s intervention to stop central government advertisements in the publications till the voting day,” the official added.

In a related development, state’s chief electoral officer Anil Kumar Jha said around 117,000 people had applied for registration as voters Sunday, which was the last day for registering to vote in the upcoming assembly election.

“Our campaign since January to enroll left out people as voters received an overwhelming response as we received a record 408,000 applications for the electoral photo identity card (EPIC). We hope to achieve the 500,000 (five lakh) figure with applications from online,” Jha told IANS.

The state wing of the EC plans to have an comprehensive voters’ list by April 17, which is the last day for the withdrawal of nominations by candidates contesting in the assembly poll.

The EC will notify the assembly election Tuesday. Scrutiny of nominations will be April 18 and last date for withdrawal of candidates is April 20.

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