Srinagar: The Election Commission has banned use of mobile phones inside polling stations in the Lok Sabha elections but has allowed use of SMSes by polling staff for sending reports to the election authorities.
“Use of mobile phone within the polling station is prohibited. You, as Presiding Officer or your first polling officer can use it only for sending reports through SMS,” the Election Commission said in its handbook for presiding officers for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The EC also gave several guidelines to presiding officers on videography of critical events of the election process.
“The Commission has already issued instructions for videography of critical events of the election process and also at hypersensitive and sensitive polling stations to the extent possible.
“In deference to the suggestion of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Commission has now instructed that videography of the poll proceedings may be carried out inside the polling station also in consultation with the Observer,” the EC guidelines read.
However, the Commission directed the polling officials to ensure that while carrying out videography, the secrecy of voting process should not be violated.
“It should be ensured that a voter recording vote should not be videographed. No photography/videography shall be allowed by the mediapersons or by any other unauthorised person inside the polling station, to maintain general order and secrecy of vote,” the guidelines said.
It said there is no objection to any photographer taking photographs of a crowd of electors lining up outside the polling station subject to the maintenance of peace and order.
“He should not, however, in any circumstances be allowed to take photographs inside the polling station of the actual process of a person casting his/her vote or the voting compartment. At the same time, nobody will be allowed to take a photograph of an elector recording his/her vote on the ballot unit of the voting machine in any circumstances,” the EC said.
It has also barred entry into polling booths of anyone who is neither a voter nor required to assist the presiding officer in conducting the election.
“Neither the CEO nor the Returning Officer is empowered to authorise any person who is not an elector or who is not required to assist you in taking the poll, to enter a polling station. Any such person, including publicity officials of the State Government, should not be allowed inside a polling booth without a letter of authority from the Commission,” it said.