Kerala local body polls: Quarantined voters to get special postal ballots

The Kerala SEC has issued a set of guidelines for voters who have tested positive for coronavirus or been quarantined ahead of the local body polls.
Kerala voters
Kerala voters
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Voters who have tested positive for coronavirus or quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19 until 3 pm the day before election will be assigned special postal ballot papers. This is part of the detailed guidelines released by V Bhaskaran, Kerala State Election Commissioner, for the upcoming local body polls.

Voters who test positive or go into quarantine after 3 pm on the eve of the election, will not be issued postal ballot papers. They can come directly to the polling booths and cast their votes, after all ordinary voters in queue and those who have been issued tokens have completed voting, the SEC said.

Health officers have been tasked with making a list of ‘special voters’. The special voters list will be prepared in each district. A special voter is a person who is either an active COVID-19 patient or is in quarantine within 10 days before the election day and till 3 pm on the eve of the election. The special polling officer and polling assistant will distribute the special ballots papers to this group. The voter also has to sign a declaration before the officer. Once the ballot paper is handed over, the vote should be cast in secret. The vote can either be handed over to the polling officer, or sent to the returning officer via another person or via mail.

The second list will include voters who test positive or go into quarantine after 3 pm, on the eve of the election. This group will not be issued special postal ballots, but will be allowed to vote directly at the polling booths.  The commission has listed a detailed set of rules for this category of voters as well.

Special voters in government hospitals

Voters who are receiving treatment for COVID-19 in government hospitals will be helped by the health department to reach the designated polling station. Special voters who are being treated elsewhere and not in government hospitals will have to reach polling stations by themselves. 

Guidelines state that these voters are not supposed to make any stops between the polling station and their house or hospital. The driver of the vehicle should wear a PPE kit and there should not be a bystander accompanying the patient in the same vehicle. 

The voters will also not be allowed to touch the EVMs without wearing gloves. Separate pens should be used by them to sign on the register. 

According to reports, the list of voters in those districts where voting is scheduled in the first phase (December 8) will begin first. These districts are Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki.

Work on the list of voters in districts where voting is scheduled for the second phase - Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad, would start on December 1. In Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kasargod and Kannur where polling is on December 14, work will start on December 5. 

“The DHO in a district will prepare the Certified list of Special voters housed in the district and deliver the first list to the District Election Officer (DEO) on the day which is ten days before the day of poll.” Daily lists thereafter for subsequent eight (8) days till 3 pm on the day prior to the poll will also be submitted.

The District Medical Officer will set up a Covid-19 election cell in their respective districts. The cell will have health inspectors and supervisors for monitoring the voting process for special voters. 

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