A 3-member Election Commission (EC) announced the dates for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections during a press conference held on Thursday in New Delhi. Apart from the crucial dates, EC also informed on the changes that VVPAT will undergo and about first ever all-woman managed booths. Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will be held on November 9, 2017 and the counting of votes will be done on December 18. In Gujarat, the assembly polls will be conducted before December 18, 2017.

Although there was no specific date given out for assembly polls in Gujarat, the EC targeted the same day for counting votes in both states that was December 18. On the idea of holding elections in Gujarat before December 18, the Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti said, “This will enable simultaneous counting in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.”

The CEC further announced that VVPAT machines along with EVMs will be used in upcoming Himachal Pradesh elections. Also during the Himachal polls, the size of the VVPAT screen will be increased to 10 cm by 5.6 cm in order to help the voters verify their votes easily. The state will also see at least 136 polling booth managed by women only for the first time ever and the height of voting compartments will be increased to 30 inches. “Model code of conduct for Himachal Pradesh assembly election comes into effect from now itself. Bulk SMSs and voice messages on phone shall also be in the purview of election advertisements,” said CEC Achal Kumar Jyoti.

During the press conference, it was also announced that Chennai’s RK Nagar by-elections will be conducted before December 31, 2017. The term of the 182-member Gujarat assembly ends on January 22, 2018 while that of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh’s Assembly ends on January 7, 2018.