Thiruvananthapuram: Special voters who test COVID-positive or are quarantined after 3pm on the eve of the local body polls in Kerala need to mandatorily submit an affidavit to directly arrive at the polling booth for voting. The State Election Commission has issued instructions to all district poll officers in this regard even as the postal ballot facility should be exercised by special voters included in a separate electoral list drawn up earlier by the authorities.
Those voters who are found infected by the coronavirus or have entered quarantine over such concerns post 3 pm on the eve of the civic poll should arrive, clad in PPE kit, before 6pm at the polling booth when the normal voting time concludes. However, they would be allowed to vote only after all the people in the queue register their votes.
The District Medical Officer or designated health officer has to attest whether the individual is COVID-positive or in quarantine. And this should be informed to the polling officer at the booth via the returning officer.
There is no basis for apprehensions that people arriving in PPE kit may indulge in fraudulent votes, State Election Commissioner V Bhaskaran said.
These voters should remove the face shield for identification if the polling agents ask them to do so. The polling officers and polling agents will also be wearing PPE kits during this time, Bhaskaran clarified.
The Commission deduces that the number of such voters arriving at the booths would be relatively less as the COVID-positive and quarantined individuals would be making the postal votes till the previous day.
Those who are COVID positive and those who are in quarantine are the special voters. The list of special voters has been prepared on the basis of the certified list provided by the district medical officers. The list will be updated till 3 pm on December 7, the eve of the first round of elections.
Those on the list can only cast postal votes even if they become free of COVID or if their quarantine period ends before the polling begins. They will not be able to go directly to vote as the list held by officers at the polling booths will mention that they would be casting their ballots through post.
No marking with indelible ink
The Commission has already stated that indelible ink will not be applied on the index finger of Covid-positives or people under quarantine when officials reach their place of stay or quarantine centre to get their votes polled.
If required, indelible ink will be applied on such cases who reach the polling booth directly to cast their votes. This is being done since such voters would be wearing PPE kits.
If required the voters will be asked to remove PPE kit or mask for identification.
Paid holiday for election
The Labour Commissioner has ordered that the employees in the private sector should also be given paid holiday on the voting day. All the staff of private, commercial, industrial and business firms should be given a holiday.
There should not be any pay cut over the holiday. This is applicable to all private establishments, including IT and plantation sectors.