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Ramp up preparations now to ensure safe and secure elections amidst COVID-19

gnlm opinion

With only 38 days before the November-8 elections, the COVID-19 pandemic still poses a threat to public health.
When it comes to holding general elections in the midst of a global pandemic, election administrators must do much more to help the eligible citizens cast their ballots without placing themselves in danger.
Election administrators need to take a number of special measures designed to make in-person elections as safe as possible. At the same time, they need to prepare for advanced voting and for those who are placed in quarantine facilities as it is impossible for them to vote in person.
There are differences between the 2015 and 2020 general elections. The coming general elections will be held amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the electoral process needs to be in consistent with the health guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports.
At the same time, the election officials and the members of the public are urged to continue to monitor the developing situation closely and follow the guidance of local health authorities. Avoiding big gatherings is mandatory to slow the spread of coronavirus during the election campaigns because our country is facing a rapidly moving pandemic, and any death, any case, is tragic.
We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus.
All poll workers will wear masks, gloves and face shields and will be physically distanced from voters. Poll workers will also be greeting voters at the polling location and will help them safely navigate the polling location. Where possible, polling locations will have separate entrances and exits. All of these measures are mandatory for the safety of the voters, poll officials and workers.
The number of new COVID cases has been rising steadily, reaching over 14000 yesterday with 321 fatalities. We understand that voting in person may seem like a scary option this year, especially in Yangon Region which has seen most positive cases.
However, public faith in elections is the bedrock of democracy and we must do everything we can to hold the November-8 general elections successfully and safely.
Election administrators and workers in regions and states are highly urged to ramp up measures for electoral processes now.

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