The election day in Kerala was largely peaceful, but complaints of bogus voting were raised in several assembly constituencies. Polling officials have allowed tendered votes in situations in which they were convinced that genuine voters had lost their rights to impersonators. The tendered votes will not be counted unless there arises election petitions or disputes about counting.
Complaints of bogus voting were heard from five booths in the Ernakulam district. Ajay G Krishna, who was supposed to vote in a polling booth set up in the Government Lower Primary School in East Kadungallur in the Kalamassery constituency, found that someone else had voted in his name. So did Pazhayidam Saramma Mathai from Poyka in Vadattupara and Panattil Mufsina from Elambra in the Kothamangalam constituency. Other complainants in the district were Mankulam Thomas and S P Rajesh, both voters in the Tripunithura constituency. All five of them were allowed to register tendered votes.
When Sameera Parasseril went to a polling booth in Kumily in Idukki district, she found that her vote had been cast by someone else before her. Mary Jose of Ambalathara in Idukki’s Narakakkanam also registered a tendered vote.
In Malappuram district, Mundakodan Chandrika in the Vandoor constituency, Ibrahiminte Purakkal Basheer in the Tirur constituency and Ayisha Thahira in the Tavanur constituency also registered tendered votes after their votes were found to have cast by someone else before them.
Meghna S Chandran from Channanikkad in Kottayam and K Smitha in Adoor could not register their votes and had to opt for tendered votes.
A BJP worker in 130th booth in the Kattakkada constituency in Thiruvananthapruam district claimed that his vote was cast earlier. He registered a tendered vote along with two others in the district – Alphonsa in Shamkhumukham and Ravindran Nair in Petta.
Three electors in Mannarkad constituency were allowed to cast tendered votes for the same reason. So did four voters in the Kongad constituency. Marykutty who went to the Mangad school polling booth in the Kollam district also had to contend with a tendered vote.
There was some confusion in Thazhe Chovva in Kannur when K Sasidharan’s vote was mistakenly cast by Sasidharan Kiriyedath. A case has been registered against Sasidharan Kiriyedath though preliminary investigations suggested that it was a mistake. A CPM worker who tried to cast someone else’s vote in the Morazha Higher Secondary School in the Taliparamba constituency walked scot-free, raising protests from political opponents.
Kuzhichalil Seenat in Payyoli municipality and Uthiruparambil Muneera in Thrikottur West in Thikkodi panchayat, both voters in the Koyilandi constituency, lost their chances. Kuniyil Ayisha in the Nadapuram constituency, Vayalil Sainaba in the Balussery constituency and P T Vasantha Kumar in the Kunnamangalam constituency were the others in the district who were allowed to register tendered votes.
M R Suresh Kumar from Mulakkuzha Mezhuvelil in the Alappuzha district also lost his chance to a bogus voter. As many as 12 people were taken into preventive custody in Udumbanchola after they were accused of trying to cast duplicate votes. All of them were trying to travel to Tamil Nadu when they were arrested.
A voter in the Tripunithura constituency was in for a shock when she was registered as “deceased” on the electoral list. Nedumparambil Rosily from Nettur was allowed to cast a “challenge” vote after her daughter pointed out the mistake to the presiding officer.
A postal vote was allegedly cast in the name of a deceased person in the Kozhikode North constituency. Sathyabhama, a voter in the 34th booth in the urban constituency, passed away on March 19, but a postal ballot was allotted in her name, a UDF agent complained.
A similar complaint was raised in the Kottayam district. Saraswathi from Muttambalam died two years ago but that hasn’t prevented the polling officers to grant a postal ballot in her name. The 81-year-old woman cast her vote on Tuesday, according to official documents.
The new system of postal ballot led to some confusion in several places. Some of the voters were disappointed to learn that they could not cast their votes in the polling booths as their names were registered for postal ballots.
Electors aged above 80 were allowed to register their votes in sealed ballots before the election day. Several electors complained that their names were registered for postal votes even without them applying for it. Some of them were allowed to register tendered votes.
Louis who went to the St Mary’s School at Ramankulangara in the Chavara assembly constituency in the Kollam district was told he could not vote at the polling booth because he was one of the voters granted a postal ballot. Hamsa Rawther from Panamthekkethil in the Ettumanur constituency had a similar experience. They were allowed to register tendered votes though.
Mathai could not vote at the polling booth set up in the Government Higher Secondary School at Chuzhali in the Kannur district as he was found to have registered for the postal vote. Panayampadath Madhavan, aged 83, from Pazhayannur in the Thrissur district had written to a block-level officer that he wanted to vote in person, but was turned away at the polling booth because he was eligible only for a postal vote. The officer confirmed Madhavan’s claim and said that he had handed over the elector’s signed letter to the village officer concerned.
Others who were denied a chance to vote in person for the same reason include Sreedevi Mohanan and Titteppurath Ravish from Kundannur in the Thripunithura constituency, P M Eapen from Thammanam in the Trikkakkara constituency, Mararupadam Janaki from Vaniyakkad in the Paravur constituency and Maliyekkal Varkey Ulahannan in the Piravam constituency. All of them were seen to have registered postal votes according to official documents.
Four electors in three booth in the Kasaragod district could not vote in person as they were granted a chance to cast postal ballots.
Kunnel Anil Kumar in the Udumbanchola constituency in Idukki district had the same experience. Lukose and Leelamma were told they could not vote at the Mayalthamatha Lower Primary School in Bison Valley. The couple denied ever having applied for postal ballots.
Pallath Neeli from Theyyangad in Ponnani could not vote at the polling booth. Polling officials said they could not deliver the postal ballot to her despite going to her house twice. Neeli, however, said that she never applied for postal ballot.
Two electors in Perunkadavila panchayat in the Parassala constituency were returned by the officials because they had already registered postal votes. A homemaker in Kanjikulam in the Malampuzha constituency could not vote in person because she was deemed to have cast a postal vote earlier.
The returning officer in Thrissur district took proactive measures to correct any anomaly related to postal votes. As soon as polling agents brought to the officer’s attention the problem, he called back two electors and made them vote. Ajay Balakrishnan and Princy Sunny from Koratty were initially turned away at the polling booths because their names on the list had ‘postal’ marked against them.
A 24-year-old student in the Chavara constituency in the Kollam district was denied voting right because his name featured in the postal ballot list reserved for senior citizens. M Vishnu Mohan from Sakthikulangara was even denied a tendered vote.