Considerable planning needed to safeguard health, elections amidst COVID-19

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The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced yesterday that it will hold the general elections on 8th November this year. In the elections, 330 seats would be contested in the Pyithu Hluttaw and 168 in the Amyotha Hluttaw, or 12 for each state and region. The UEC is making preparations to ensure that the 2020 general elections meet five standards: they are free, fair, transparent, reliable, and harmonious with the people’s desire. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a free and fair election demands not only ensuring eligibility voters do not lose their votes but also that they are safe from infection of coronavirus. When it comes to voting, we should not have to choose between their health and their democracy.
Looking to 8th November, we cannot let this virus hinder our general elections. Increasing voting options only strengthens democracy. Voting is a right that people have. We need to act now to hold a safe 2020 general election. We should be prepared for any emergency that might make turning out at the polls difficult or impossible.
If you’re concerned about your health or that of those around you, and don’t want to cram into a voting booth on Election Day.
There will be over 40,000 polling stations nationwide for over 37 million eligible voters for the 2020 General Elections. This year’s election will be different because of Covid-19 and a range of measures will be in place to help keep people safe in complying with the health guidelines. With social distancing at all voting precincts, casting a ballot may take a little longer and may be inconvenient. To overcome that challenge, advance voting and other convenient ways, particularly for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions, should be encouraged as we continue to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when voters stand in line to cast their ballots.
Democracies thrive on assembly, transparency and confidence in elections and government institutions—all of which are put at risk by the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health crisis erupted during an already troubling global decline in democracy. Our people will give their votes for democracy on 8th November nationwide. The authorities also will have to ensure safety for their health and the integrity of in-person voting. Holding elections amid public health crises is possible, but considerable planning is needed to avoid exacerbating an already dire situation.

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