New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Sunil Arora, today underscored the commitment of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) across the world, for the conduct of timely, free, fair and participatory elections to foster democracy in the world. Herecalledformer US President Abraham Lincoln’s allusion to democracies as governments“of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
CEC also recalleda quote by Nelson Mandela: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Speaking at the conclusion of the International Webinar on “Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19: Sharing Country Experiences”, Shri Arora highlighted the common threads that emerged from the event.
CEC emphasized that today’s webinar brings out clearly the importance of training the officials involved with the conduct of elections.
During his intervention, Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra emphasized that in the shadow of COVID-19, elections have not only to be free and fair, but also ensure safety for the electors as well as polling officials and security personnel on duty. He said that presentations from various countries show comprehensive preparedness required before, during and after elections. The ultimate concern is to ensure that voters feel safe while voting in covid times. He also emphasized effective communication with voters regarding safety protocols adopted by the Commission.
In his remarks, Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar noted that even amid the pandemic, electors have high expectations for the smooth conduct of elections. Mutual sharing of ideas and experiences of conducting elections amidst challenges of COVID19 at this webinar, will go a long way in introducing safety provisions and services with all protocols in place and will strengthen the democracies despite challenges posed. He further appealed to participating election bodies to reiterate the resolve to protect political rights of citizens and thereby democratic processes and institutions.
Among the countries that made presentations were Fiji, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, South Africa, Bangladesh and Malawi. The international organizations participating were International IDEA, A-WEB and IFES.
The webinar provided an excellent opportunity for all the participants to exchange ideas and learn from each others’ experience of holding and managing elections in the challenging times of COVID 19 pandemic, to ensure free, fair, transparent as well as safe elections.