Ahead of local body elections in the state, officials of the Kerala State Election Commission on Wednesday have started distributing special ballots to voters who are in quarantine or have COVID 19. The ballot distribution has started in five districts of the state.
It is distributed to listed voters who were certified earlier by the Health Department. Designated health workers after taking all the precautions including wearing a PPE kit would visit these special voters on a daily basis from December 2 to December 7 to give ballots.
As Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki local body elections are in the first phase and are scheduled on December 8, the special ballots have been distributed in these districts. The distribution team comprises the special polling officer, special polling assistant and a police officer. Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad are in the second phase, with polls scheduled for December 10. Third phase of voting will be in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kasargod and Kannur and polling is on December 14.
Those who tested positive after 3pm on December 7 can vote at their respective polling booth after 5pm on December 8, after all others have voted. The Election Commission has released a set of instructions for this category of voters. They will not be allowed to touch Electronic Voting Machines without wearing gloves.
Rules for such voters state that they are not supposed to make any stops between the polling station and their house or hospital. Nobody should be accompanying them to the polling booth other than the vehicle driver, who should be wearing a PPE kit.
Once the voter gets the ballot paper they can either hand it over to the polling officer after voting or send it to the returning officer via another person or via mail. Those who are under treatment at government hospitals will be helped by the health department to reach polling stations. Those patients not in government hospitals have to reach the poll booths on their own.
The District Medical Officers have been entrusted to set up a COVID-19 election cell in every district.