All the MPs are struggling and the pandemic is on the rise… The countdown has already begun for the polling stations and the Election Service has already started studying scenarios and conducting exercises on paper for the first pan-Cypriot electoral contest in the coronavirus era. A first test took place last August in the elections for the new mayor of Aglantzia. Of course, the sample was very small then, but the protocols followed then, will be the basis for the elections next May.
In this context, the Election Service proceeded with a plan for the purchase of the appropriate equipment in consumables for the needs of the elections, in compliance with the security measures provided in the relevant protocol. This also increases by a small percentage the budget for the elections which is provided in the state budget. when and if it is approved.
According to the information provided to “F” by the Head of the Election Service, Menelaos Vassilios, for the needs of observance of the measures, a large number of consumables will be ordered, which include masks, antiseptics and pens, which will be sterilized. Specifically, as he said, 45 thousand masks will be used which will be covered by the masks that are used in general for the needs of the public. At the same time, 6 thousand antiseptics will be purchased at a total cost of 18 thousand euros for the sterilization needs of the pens, which will be placed after use in special containers for sterilization and reuse.
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Among the scenarios studied was the provision of pens per voter, so that it is disposable. But this would mean a very large number of pens as the total number of registered voters exceeds half a million, with an unknown parameter of course the turnout. Therefore, it was considered more practical to order 150 thousand pens for the needs of the elections, by sterilizing and reusing them. The total cost for the pens will amount to 6 thousand euros. It is noted that the use of a mask will be mandatory for voters and everyone will be required to wear their own mask to be able to enter the polling station and will not be granted. At the same time, at least one additional staff member will be present at the polling stations, who will have the sole responsibility for sterilizing the pens. The number of polling stations has not yet been finalized. In the previous parliamentary elections, 1,126 polling stations were operating throughout Cyprus. Under normal circumstances, their number is not expected to change dramatically, unless further polling stations, with a maximum number of 1,500, operate to avoid overcrowding.
The budget for the parliamentary elections amounts to 4 million euros, with 50% of this being the cost for the staff who will work on election day and for overtime work for the purpose of preparing the polling stations. From the remaining budget, an amount of 400 thousand is provided. Euros for the expenses of the Police for the needs of the elections, 600 thousand. euros for publication of election notices. Expenses for the government printing house, for the Electromechanical Service, the IT Service, room rentals and Public Works are also included. Also included is a budget of 100 thousand euros for extraordinary expenses, which may cover the need to buy consumables due to a pandemic.
The Head of the Election Service also noted that various other scenarios are being studied to deal with emergencies that may occur due to a pandemic, such as the detection of a case in District Administrations that are responsible for preparing polling stations per province.