Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Monday 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.
Speaking at the conclusion of the International Webinar on “Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19: Sharing Country Experiences”, Arora highlighted the common threads that emerged from the event. CEC emphasized that the webinar brought out clearly the importance of training the officials involved with the conduct of elections.
He recalled former US president Abraham Lincoln’s allusion to democracies as governments “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The CEC also recalled a 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.”
During his intervention, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra emphasized that in the shadow of COVID-19, elections should not only 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-19 times. He also emphasized effective communication with voters regarding safety protocols adopted by the commission.
In his remarks, Election Commissioner 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 COVID-19 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 the political rights of citizens and thereby democratic processes and institutions.
Among the countries that made presentations were Fiji, 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.