Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Thursday said that the voting time in the Tamil Nadu Assembly election will be extended by one hour and the polling stations will be increased by 25,000 due to coronavirus-induced norms, reported the Hindustan Times.

“Some parties recommended that polling hours should be extended,” Arora said at the press conference in Chennai. “So, due to social distancing norms, we have decided to extend the polling time by an hour. Details will be divulged when we actually announce the elections.”

He said that the Election Commission was committed towards conducting safe polls amid the pandemic. He also said that a special focus was given on the participation of women and new voters.

He said that central forces would play a greater role as part of efforts to ensure fair polls, reported PTI. Arora said there will be no ‘Vellores and RK Nagars” this time. He was reportedly referring to allegations of distribution of cash to voters in these constituencies.

Arora said that the senior-most general observer at the district-level would be part of the exercise in the deployment of central forces. “This is a major decision we have already taken,” he said. “It will be formally conveyed to the chief electoral officers in the next two to three days maximum.”

He said that the decisions were based on feedback from political parties and a complaint that the personnel were deployed by the state governments “wherever they like”.

Arora said the poll body has emphasised on measures to ensure inducement-free polls to the central and state regulatory agencies. He added that the poll body would conduct another meeting with senior officers and enforcement agencies after a week to review the outcome of a meeting held on Thursday.

“Because of money factor of inducement in Tamil Nadu, besides the normal observers we send, we have decided to send Special Expenditure Observers,” the poll body chief said. This would be in addition to the district observers, Arora said.

There will be at least two special expenditure observers and one of them will be a senior person for guidance for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, he said.