Election Commission of India has issued social media guidelines and model code of conduct to the Parties contesting Lok Sabha elections 2019.
With the General elections 2019 dates declared, the elections will start from April 11 and counting will be held on 23rd May.
The elections dates for the State of Karnataka is April 18th and April 23rd 2019.
Election Commission of India :
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Council in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
Originally in 1950, the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. Two additional Commissioners were appointed to the commission for the first time on 16 October 1989.
The commission is served by its secretariat located in New Delhi. The Election Commissioners are assisted by Deputy Election Commissioners, who are generally IAS Officers.. They are further assisted by Directors General, Principal Secretaries, and Secretaries and Under Secretaries.
Karnataka Elections – Election Commission :
The Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka will be in 2 phases, with 14 constituencies going to the polls in each phase. The elections dates for the State of Karnataka is April 18th and April 23rd 2019.
For those in Bengaluru, the polling date is 18th April 2019 that is 2nd phase. There are 28 Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka which will go to polls on April 18 under separate phases.
for the 14 constituencies in Karnataka that go to the polls on April 18, the last date for filing nominations is on March 26. The last date for scrutiny of nomination is March 27 and the last date for withdrawal of nomination is March 29.
- All social media ads from political parties will have to be pre-certified
- Candidates will have to submit details of their social media accounts
- Social media expert to be part of Media Certification and Monitoring Committee
Social media – Election Commission :
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced strict guidelines for use of social media by political parties and candidates.
The Election commission has outlined strict guidelines for use of social media during elections. The political parties and candidates will not be able to post unverified advertisements, photos personnel from defence, hate speeches. The candidates will not be posting any fake news on their accounts.
According to the Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, the new guidelines requires the candidates to furnish details of their social media accounts during the filing of nomination papers. They have to disclose the activities on their Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Share Chat and Google.
The Election Commission has decided to bring als the bulk SMSes and Voice messages on phone under the purview of pre-certification of election advertisements.
All these social media accounts of the candidates will be under the close scrutiny of Election commission.
Model Code of Conduct – Election Commission :
Model code of conduct also applies to the text being posted on social media by party candidates and political parties. Any violation with regard to model code of conduct will lead to action by the Election Commission.
According to Sunil Arora “the media certification and monitoring committees (MCMCs) are in place at the district and State levels. One social media expert will also be part of this committee at each level. All political advertisements, proposed to be issued on the social media, shall require pre-certification from the MCMC concerned”.
Facebook and Google also have deputed a dedicated grievance officer to receive complaints of any violation of EC guidelines.
The Moral Code of Conduct includes a list of guidelines used for regulating political parties and their activities just ahead of general elections 2019. The rules not only apply to political speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, rallies, general conduct but also to the contents of election manifestos.
Social platforms :
The social platforms will also assign fact checkers to scan fake news and abuses on the social media. As per the guidelines, no political party or candidate will display photographs of defence personnel on social media for the campaigning purpose.
The social media posts should not contain any content that violates the electoral process or disturb peace, calm, social harmony and public order.
Candidates and political parties are mandatorily required to disclose their campaigning expenditure, including the money spent on social media advertising, in their poll expenditure account.
This also includes payments made to internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements. This also includes campaign-related operational expenditure on making creative development of content, salaries and wages paid to the team employed to operate and maintain the social media accounts.
State-level monitoring committee – Election Commission ;
The district and state-level media certification and monitoring committees will be present to monitor the activities. All electronic and radio advertisements will be screened during the elections The States will now also have a social media expert on board to ensure that such campaign materials do not slip in without scrutiny.
The election expenditure ceiling is Rs 70 lakh for candidates contesting Lok Sabha elections 2019 , except in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim the ceiling is fixed at Rs 54 lakh.
EVMs to carry candidate pictures – Election Commission :
In Lok Sabha 2019 elections the EVMs will be carrying the candidate pictures to avoid confusion over similar names.
The photograph will be printed on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) ballot units as well as on postal ballot papers according to the Election commission.
According to the Election Commissioner, ‘the provision for printing the candidate photographs will help avoid any confusion which may arise when candidates with similar names contest from the same constituency’.
The party candidates are required to submit to the returning officer, their recent stamp size photograph as per the specifications laid down by the Election Commission.
This has happened before. India had gone to polls with photo electoral rolls for the first time in 2009. In that year, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir and Nagaland did not have photo electoral rolls, while elector photo identity cards were not distributed to electors in Assam and Nagaland.
The Election Commission said that official voter slip bearing the photo of the elector (wherever present in the roll) will be distributed at least five days before the polling date.
To advertise criminal records :
This Lok Sabha polls, candidates will have to advertise their criminal records. According to the Election Commission directions, political parties too will have to give publicity to the criminal records of candidates fielded by them.
The Election Commission has made it mandatory for party candidates contesting polls to advertise their criminal records in TV and newspapers at least three times during electioneering. This rule will be implemented for the first time in Lok Sabha 2019 election, scheduled to be held from April 11 to May 19.
Parties which fail to comply will face the prospects of getting their recognition withdrawn or suspended. Candidates have to submit clippings of their declaration published in papers and parties have to submit details about the number of such candidates in a State.