Election Commission begins all-party meeting to discuss 2019 Lok Sabha elections

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New Delhi:

As 2019 Lok Sabha election is around the corner, the Election Commission on Monday convened an all-party meeting, where the issue of vulnerability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) is likely to remain in focus. According to sources, close to the poll panel, the meeting, which will discuss preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, is also a part of its annual calendar to meet stakeholders.

The Election Commission has extended invitations to as many as seven national and 51 regional parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party, CPI-M, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), DMK, CPI, YSR Congress, Kerala Congress-Mani (KCM) and AIUDF.

#Delhi: All party meeting called by Election Commission to begin shortly pic.twitter.com/3UWYOugXCC

— ANI (@ANI) August 27, 2018

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The all-party meeting was announced days after several opposition parties reached out the Election Commission, demanding the upcoming Lok Sabha elections be conducted on ballot paper instead of EVMs. The opposition has accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of tampering the EVM machines in a bid to tilt poll results to their favour.

Ahead of the all party meeting called by the Election Commission later today,Congress has once again appealed to EC that the next Lok Sabha polls be held on ballot paper: Sources pic.twitter.com/ahPEMiNxzy

— ANI (@ANI) August 27, 2018

Though the meeting agenda, does not include a discussion on simultaneous polls, suggested by the Modi government, the political parties are expected to raise the idea of 'one nation one election'. However, the present strength of the EVMs does not permit the commission to nod for 'one nation one poll', Election Commissioner OP Rawat informed earlier.

Other significant issues that will come up in the all-party meeting are - the place of electoral rolls, placing a ceiling on political parties’ expenditure, procedural and timely submission of annual audited reports by parties, demand for paper ballots, linking of Voter ID with Aadhaar, adding print media to the definition of mediums on which vote appeals cannot be made prior to election and also how to curb the use of social media just a few days before the polls.

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The agenda note, sent to all political parties, also mentions the issue of the social media campaign and said - in case a party is using social platforms for their respective campaigns, they should stop it just 48 hours before the election.

Besides that, the commission will also formulate strategies to handle the voting by domestic migrants and absentee voters in a bid to take maximum voters into the fold.

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