Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will be held in April and May, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced on Friday.
The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately from today onwards.
While Assam will have a two-phase election on 4 and 11 April, West Bengal will see balloting on seven dates: 4, 11, 17, 21, 25 and 30 April and 5 May.
In contrast, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will see polling on a single day: 16 May.
Votes polled in all five states will be counted on 19 May, Zaidi told media persons here.
“The Model Code of Conduct comes into existence with immediate effect in all the poll-bound states,” he said.
The None Of The Above (NOTA) option will now have a symbol on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the upcoming Assembly elections.
“For the first time, the commission has provided a new symbol, designed by National Institute of Design (NID), for the NOTA option. This new symbol will facilitate the voters in casting their vote,” he said.
In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, the commission has prescribed an additional measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate also on the ballot to be displayed on the EVM and on postal ballot papers.
“This will also take care of likely confusion when candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency. For this purpose, the candidates are required to submit to the returning officer, their recent stamp-size photograph as per specifications laid down by the commission,” Zaidi said.
Many of the poll-bound states will be using the photograph of the candidates on the ballot papers for the first time.
The commission has also taken various measures to ensure free and fair elections by creating an atmosphere in which each elector is able to access the polling station, without being obstructed or being unduly influenced or intimidated by anybody.
“Based on the assessment of the ground situation, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and State Armed Police (SAP) drawn from other States will be deployed during these elections,” he said.