Around 5.00 pm on Friday, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) VS Sampath announced the dates for five state polls, with the model code of conduct coming into immediate effect.
Assembly elections will be held in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh from November 11.
Chhattisgarh is to vote in two phases with the first phase on November 11 and the second one on November 19.
Madhya Pradesh will be voting on November 25 and Rajasthan will be going to polls on December 1.
Delhi and Mizoram are to vote on December 4.
Counting of all votes will be done on December 8.
Sampath also said that necessary steps will be taken to educate voters on the none of the above option to be introduced for the first time in electronic voting machines after the Supreme Court ruling of September 27.
The CEC also sought to reassure that all measures have been taken to ensure fair polling. He said that media committees will be set-up at state level to keep 24 hour check on news and elaborate security arrangements will be put in place. Voting will take place in 1.30 lakh polling stations.
These state-level elections are considered to be a precursor of things to come in the 2014 general elections. According to Sampath, these five states account for over 11 crore of the electorate.
Replying to a question on disqualification of convicted MPs, he said the Election Commission will announce vacancies only after they are notified by Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker.
EVMs to have option allowing voters to reject all candidates
For the first time, the Election Commission will provide 'none of the above' option button in EVMs for the 11 crore voters who will exercise their franchise in the five states going to polls beginning next month.
"The Election Commission is working out details and steps for introduction of NOTA option in these polls itself," Sampath told a press conference.
Till now, this option is not available to voters on ballot papers and EVMs. Voters so far had to register their option of NOTA in a register under Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules, thus compromising secrecy.
In its September 27 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed the EC to provide NOTA option on ballot papers and EVMs.
The apex court had said that the EC should implement it either in a phased manner or at a time in assistance with the central government.
Below the name of the last candidate on the EVM, EC will now provide a button for NOTA option for electors who do not wish to vote for any of the candidates in the fray in their constituency.
"The Commission is taking steps to bring this to the knowledge of voters and all other stakeholders and to train all field level officials, including polling personnel about the NOTA option," Sampath said.
Former CEC S Y Quraishi had recently written an article about the NOTA option saying that such votes will be counted as "no votes" and would not affect the result of the poll.