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    Elections 2019 All Your Questions Answered

    Bihar will vote on October 28, November 3 and 7 for a new government and the results will be announced on November 10.

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    More than 7 crore people are eligible to vote in the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls, one of the biggest elections globally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    There are 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar. In the first phase on Oct 28, 71 Assembly constituencies in 16 districts will go to the polls. In second phase on Nov 3, 94 Assembly constituencies in 17 districts and in third phase on Nov 7, 78 Assembly constituencies in 15 districts will go to the polls.

    Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hopes to win a fourth term with the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal of jailed former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, now led by his son Tejashwi Yadav, and the Congress - his partners in the last election - challenging him as part of the "Grand Alliance". The opposition bloc now also includes the Left parties.

    Nitish Kumar is leading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar which includes Janata Dal (United), BJP, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha. The Lok Janshakti Party led by Chirag Paswan is also part of the alliance but after a protracted feud, it has said it will field candidates against the JDU.

    In the last assembly elections, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United (JDU), Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress fought together as the "Mahagathbandhan" or "Grand Alliance", winning 178 of 243 seats.

    The BJP and its allies - Lok Janshakti Party, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha - won 58.

    However, just two years later, Nitish Kumar dumped the Grand Alliance over corruption allegations against his deputy Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav and teamed up with his old ally the BJP. He remained chief minister under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

    The ruling NDA currently has 130 seats while the Grand Alliance - which now includes the Left as well - has 100 seats.

    The Bihar assembly elections amid the coronavirus crisis will be held with many changes, including an extra voting hour and no physical contact during the campaign. Covid patients, suspects and those in quarantine will vote separately, said Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora. Voters will have to use masks and gloves. The number of phases has also been reduced to three from five to minimize infection.

    The model code of conduct is a set of guidelines that candidates, and political parties and governments must follow to keep elections fair. These generally include restrictions on government announcements and freebies that can influence voters.

    The model code of conduct comes into effect as soon as the Election Commission announces poll dates.

    An EVM or Electronic Voting Machine is an electronic device for recording votes. It consists of two units - a control unit and a balloting unit.

    Since 2010, the Election Commission has been phasing in a third unit called the VVPAT or the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, which allows voters to verify that their votes have been recorded correctly by printing a paper receipt. This system will be used with all voting machines in the upcoming assembly and general elections.

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    The Election Commission says EVMs are tamper-proof and accurate.

    Questions have been raised over EVMs in the past few years, mostly from parties that have lost the polls (the same parties have often swallowed the questions when they won elections).
     
    To set questions and doubts at rest, the Election Commission organised a "hackathon" last year, but the allegations of voting machines being manipulated persist.

    But given the sheer scale of Indian elections and the size of the electorate, EVMs are unlikely to be discarded. Experts say they are certainly much less "hackable" than ballot boxes which have been known to be stolen, switched or destroyed.

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    EVMs were first used in 1982 in 50 polling stations in a by-election to Kerala's Parur assembly seat. The first large scale use of EVMs was in 1998 when it was used in 16 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi. The 2004 Lok Sabha election was the first parliamentary poll conducted entirely on EVMs.

    EVMs sped up the process of vote-counting by more than 10 times in some cases. While the counting of ballot papers took between 30 to 40 hours in each assembly constituency, these days results or trends emerge within two to three hours.

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    NOTA or "None Of The Above" is a voting option on EVMs that allows voters to reject every candidate in their constituency. It was introduced In October 2013 following a Supreme Court order.

    In last year's election, Gujarat registered the second highest NOTA votes at 1.8% while Bihar tops the list with 2.48% votes.

     
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    According to the Election Commission, even if the number of voters choosing NOTA is higher than the number of votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate who has the largest number of votes has to be declared elected.

    You can contact the nearest Election Commission office or visit the National Voters' Services Portal at www.nvsp.in.

    Even if you don't have an election ID card, you can still vote with most government-issued photo identity documents. These include:

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    If don't have these, you can register both offline and online for a voter ID card.

    To register offline, you have to visit the state election office and request a Form 6. After filling in the necessary details and providing all relevant documents, you can submit the form to be issued the election ID at a later date.

    You can also register online by visiting the National Voters' Services Portal at www.nvsp.in.

    Yes, a legislator can contest parliamentary elections in India. However, according to the Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules, 1950, they will have to resign from the state legislature within 14 days of the Lok Sabha election results being declared. Therefore, they cannot hold both the positions.

    Yes. As long as you have your name in the voters' list, you can walk in to a polling booth and cast your vote with an Aadhaar card as ID proof.

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    Yes, as long as they have not acquired citizenship of any other country and are otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter at their place of residence in India.

    Only if you work for the military, the government or are on election duty and are posted outside your state; or you have been taken into custody as "preventive detention".

    Bellwether seats are those that have historically voted for the winner. The sentiment in the run up to the polls and early trends on counting day in these seats often act as some of the surest indications of what the outcome will be.