Voting in the time of COVID-19: Chennai voters, check out this detailed guide

VOTER'S GUIDE TO ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS 2021

The state goes to polls on April 6. Pic: Flickr (CC BY:SA 2.0)

Elections to Tamil Nadu’s legislative assembly are just a few days away with voting scheduled to take place on April 6th in a single phase. The result will be declared on May 2nd. The highly charged elections promise a neck-to-neck battle between the incumbent All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founded and presided over by actor-politician Kamal Haasan.

The assembly has 234 seats in all, of which Chennai and surrounding districts have 25 seats.

In the world’s most populous democratic country that is ours, it is imperative for every voter to cast their vote. A high turnout will place the onus on representatives — our MLAs in this case — to implement their duties and be held accountable for their deeds during their term as MLA. If, as a voter, you have any queries about the nitty-gritty of procedure, do check out this comprehensive guide that will answer most of your questions and empower you to cast your ballot.

How do I know if I can vote?

The name of the voter should be present in the electoral rolls for one to be able to vote. To check this, visit the National Voters’ Service Portal. Using the Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) number on the voter ID card, one can search for your name on the rolls.

If one does not possess a Voter ID card or does not know the EPIC number, one can search by name. Once you locate your name on the rolls, do note down the booth address, part number and serial number.

The helpline 1950 or Voter Helpline application can also be dialled to find out if your name is present on the rolls. 

Voter Helpline Features

  • Electoral search – search by barcode scan, EPIC number, details.
  • Voter registration
  • Election announcement
  • Digital voter ID issue
  • Polling station location
  • BLO details
  • Lodging of complaints
  • Digital vault
  • Voter education
  • Election results
  • Candidate profile

Where is my polling booth?

There are 6000 dedicated polling booths in Chennai that have been set up for the upcoming  assembly elections. To locate the polling booth, voters may use the services of the Voter Helpline App developed by the Election Commission for this purpose.

The voter helpline number 1950 will also help voters locate the polling booth. One can call this number after adding the STD code (044 in this case) or get the details by sending an SMS to 1950 with <ECIP044> space <YourEPICNo>

Alternatively, visit the National Voters’ Services Portal; Choose the ‘Search in Electoral Roll‘ option and fill in the details asked for. Once you have entered the details and clicked Search, the electoral roll will appear together with the mention of your polling booth.


Read more: 6000 booths, strict COVID protocol, 80-plus to vote at home: District officer shares election plans


Can I vote if I do not have a Voter ID card?

If your name is absent from the electoral rolls, you cannot vote. But if your name is present on the electoral rolls, you are eligible to vote even if you do not possess a physical voter ID card. Voters without a voter ID card may carry any one of the below-mentioned documents or ID to the polling booth to vote, after ascertaining that their name is present on the rolls:

  • Passport
  • Driving License
  • Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/State Govt PSUs/Public Limited Companies
  • Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office
  • PAN Card
  • Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR
  • MNREGA Job Card
  • Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour
  • Pension document with photograph
  • Authenticated Photo Voter Slip issued by the election machinery
  • Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs
  • Aadhaar Card

How do I know who’s contesting from my constituency?

Before you vote, it is important to know more about the various contestants in your constituency, their promises and policies proposed. 

The list of candidates contesting can be found on the website of the election commission along with their affidavits. Websites such as MyNeta also provide consolidated information on past candidates with details such as the number of criminal cases, assets, the electoral history of various candidates and the likes.

Check out more about constituencies, candidates and read their interviews on the Citizen Matters Chennai Assembly Elections 2021 page.

Chennai-based anti-corruption NGO Arappor Iyakkam has launched a mobile application named ‘Know Your Candidates’. The Android version can be downloaded here and iOS here.

Can a person register their name as an elector in more than one place? 

According to Sections 17 and 18 of the Representation of People Act, 1950, a person cannot be registered as an elector in more than one place.


Read more: Will ensure citizens know more about local projects and funds: MNM candidate from Tambaram


What is the Model Code of Conduct that all candidates should follow?

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of rules and regulations announced by the Election Commission of India pertaining to general conduct, canvassing, holding meetings and processions etc. It has to be abided by the political outfits and candidates contesting elections.

You can find more details on the model code of conduct in force here.

Where can I report if I observe any violation of the above code of conduct or any other offence?

Citizens can report violations of the Model Code of Conduct through the Voter Helpline 1950 or by using an exclusive app launched by the Election Commission of India, cVigil.  Violations can also be emailed to complaints@eci.gov.in.


Read more: Will ensure better waste management, public gyms and libraries: T M Anbarasan, Alandur MLA


What are the COVID protocols being followed this time in conduct of elections?

Representational image.

Firstly, the number of polling booths has been increased. Secondly, the ECI has also extended polling time by an hour. In an interview with Citizen Matters, District Election Officer G Prakash said, “A booth has the capacity to accommodate about 1050 people throughout the eleven hours of polling. Two officials will be deployed in each booth, only to ensure proper sanitisation. Citizens without masks will not be allowed to vote.

Can I vote remotely this time if I want to avoid going to the polling booth physically?

Only if you are 80 plus or suffer any disability, and have submitted Form 12D.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has introduced the absentee voting system for super senior citizens above 80 and persons with disabilities. Voters can register their votes through postal ballots. Persons with disabilities have to produce a disability certificate as proof.

For opting this service, voters should have submitted Form 12D before March 16th and the registration process has begun from March 26th. In this elaborate system, an appointment is sought to take the voting machine to the residences of voters for them to exercise their right to vote.

“About 70 teams, each team consisting of five people (one polling official, one videographer, police constable, micro observer and another official) are deployed across the city for collecting the votes. Every team is required to visit 15 houses a day,” said Greater Chennai Corporation Deputy Commissioner, Revenue, Meghanath Reddy.

How are essential service employees voting?

Postal voting centres (PVCs) have been set up across the city to facilitate employees working in essential service sectors. Those who opt for this should have submitted Form 12. Under this process, the employees will go to the PVCs to exercise their voting rights. The forms have been collected and may start this week.

Some of the essential services sector as notified by the ECI are:

  • Loco Pilots
  • Assistant Loco Pilots
  • Motormen
  • Guards
  • Travelling Ticket Examiners
  • AC Coach Attendants
  • Railway Protection Force Personnel on Train, escorting duties of the Railway Department
  • Media persons authorized by ECI for poll day
  • Aviation
  • Shipping

Are COVID patients or people in isolation allowed to vote?

Yes. People who are suspected to be COVID-19 positive or those in isolation can also vote, with their PPE kits on, during the last hour of the polling day. Taking these issues into consideration, ECI has extended the polling time. 

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About Bhavani Prabhakar 135 Articles
Bhavani Prabhakar is Staff Reporter at Citizen Matters Chennai. She tweets at @_bhavaniprabha