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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced significant relaxations in the voting procedure for Kashmiri migrants who relocated to Jammu and Udhampur in the 1990s, ensuring their seamless participation in the upcoming 2024 general elections. Chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar, a meeting was convened with Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu to address the concerns of displaced voters and streamline the voting process.

Previously, displaced Kashmiri Pandits were mandated to fill out Form M to transfer their voting registration from Kashmir to polling stations in Jammu, Udhampur, or Delhi. However, the ECI has now waived the requirement of Form M for individuals from Baramulla, Srinagar, and Anantnag-Rajouri.

Moreover, the commission has approved the acceptance of self-attested certificates along with Form M from migrants residing outside Jammu and Udhampur, eliminating the need for attestation by a gazetted officer. This decision comes in response to numerous representations received by the ECI highlighting the bureaucratic hurdles faced by Kashmiri migrants during the voting process.

Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu & Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole, lent support to a recommendation by political parties advocating for voting options at transitory camps and through postal ballots for Kashmiri migrants. Consequently, the ECI has designated 22 special polling stations across Jammu and Udhampur, ensuring accessibility for all displaced voters.

These special polling stations will derive electoral roll extracts from the respective assembly constituencies, with measures in place to prevent duplication between postal ballot voters and those voting in person. Migrants residing outside Jammu and Udhampur will have the option to self-attest Form M for voting at special polling stations, presenting their Electors Photo Identification Card or alternative identification.

The ECI’s initiative aims to streamline the voting process for displaced Kashmiris, offering both in-person and postal ballot options. Forms necessary for voting are available on the ECI website, facilitating greater accessibility and participation in the democratic process.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the dates for five state Assembly elections on October 9, 2023. The elections will be held in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram.

Madhya Pradesh will elect legislators for 230 constituencies, Rajasthan for 200 constituencies, Telangana for 119 constituencies, Chhattisgarh for 90 constituencies and Mizoram for 40 constituencies.

The polling will be held in one phase in each of the five states on the following dates:

  • Madhya Pradesh: November 17, 2023
  • Rajasthan: November 23, 2023
  • Chhattisgarh: November 7, 2023  and November 17, 2023
  • Telangana: November 30, 2023
  • Mizoram: November 07, 2023

The counting of votes will be held on December 3, 2023.

The ECI has issued a number of guidelines for the conduct of the elections, including guidelines on the use of social media and the prevention of COVID-19. The ECI has also appealed to all political parties and candidates to follow the guidelines and to ensure that the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.

These elections are important because they will provide a gauge of the public’s mood ahead of the 2024 general elections. The outcome of the elections will also have a significant impact on the political landscape of the country.

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