Here's a lowdown on how to vote in the Kerala civic polls

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters
Images: Sreekanth T V

The three-phase elections to the local self-government bodies in Kerala commences on December 8. Out of the 2.76 crore voters in the state, 1.72 lakh will be going to the polling booths for the first time.

The 2020 edition of the civic polls is unique as it is being held with unprecedented measures in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic there are several changes and features in the voting process which all voters, both first-timers as well as experienced ones, should be aware of.

What should we pay attention to when we go to the booth to vote? More importantly, how should one vote? Is there VVPAT this time? What is an end button? How to vote in the local body elections? Here are the answers to all your queries.

Is your name on the voters' list?

No voter should expect that one's name will figure on the voters' list this time around just because one had voted before.

The Kerala State Election Commission is responsible for conducting the local body elections. The updated voter list prepared by the Commission is available on the website

If you provide details of your district, civic body and ward, you will get to know if your name is on the list and also the polling booth where you have to cast your vote.

You can search the website for information in English and Malayalam.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

You can also seek the help of local activists of political parties and others to check if your name is on the voters’ list. You cannot vote if your name is not on the list.

The polls will be held in three phases — on December 8, 10 and 14. The voting will take place from 7 am to 6 pm.

Safety measures

• Always wear a mask when you step out of your home. Do not lower or remove the mask when you talk to someone. However, if the polling officials ask you to remove the mask for identification, you can do so.

• Always keep 6 feet distance when you stand in queue or talk to someone, even if you are wearing a mask.

• Do not bring children to the polling booth.

• Avoid handshaking.

• You will be provided soap and water or sanitiser outside the polling booths for cleaning hands. Seven litres of sanitiser have been allocated to each booth. Sanitiser should also be used after you vote and exit the polling booth. Wash hands when you enter your home.

• There will be no checking of body temperature with a thermal scanner at the polling booths.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

• Only 3 voters are allowed inside the booth at a time.

For any assistance you can call Disha helpline: 1056

Slot for special voters

The last hour of voting has been earmarked for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those in quarantine. They should arrive at this time slot wearing a PPE kit and then enter the polling booth. The pen and other items that would be used for marking their signature will not be reused. Everyone inside the booth, including the polling agents, will be wearing a PPE kit at this hour for voting. However, if you have already opted for special postal vote, you will be not allowed to vote at polling booths.

How to make out the ballot unit

The part of the voting machine where the voter needs to cast the vote for a candidate is the ballot unit. Unlike in the elections for the Legislative Assembly or Lok Sabha, the VVPAT system won't be used for the civic poll. The system helps the voter to confirm if a vote cast by pressing the button against a name in the ballot unit has gone for the intended candidate or not.

Pictured below is the control unit on the left and the ballot unit on the right.

How do you vote?

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

Upon entering the polling booth, the first polling official will check the voter identification document, name on the voter list and other details.

Identification documents that can be used:

1. Photo identification card (Voter ID Card) issued by the Election Commission

2. Passport

3. Driving licence

4. PAN card

5. Aadhaar card

6. SSLC book with photo

7. Passbook with photo of any nationalised bank issued at least six months before the election

8. Temporary ID card issued by the State Election Commission

If the polling agents of the candidate seated at the booth do not raise a dispute, you can go to the second polling official. This official will be the one who puts ink on the voter's finger. The voter's signature or fingerprint will be recorded in the register kept there. You will also get a slip of paper with the serial number to register your vote.

This voter slip should be handed over to the Presiding Officer in charge of the voting machine. The official will then check the ink on the finger and press the ballot button on the control unit to record the vote. A red light will appear on the control unit. A long beep will mean that the machine is ready.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

The voter can then go to the voting machine inside the voting compartment.

How to vote in the panchayat elections?

In the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, all you have to do is vote for a single candidate. But after the introduction of the three-tier local self-government system, voters residing within panchayat limits have to cast three votes in the civic polls - one to elect the ward representative for the gram panchayat, the second to elect the block panchayat representative and the third to choose the representative to the district panchayat.

So voters need to use three ballot units of the electronic voting machine. However, voters residing within the jurisdiction of town municipalities and city corporations will have only one vote - to elect the municipal councillor or the corporation councillor.

The three-tiers of the Panchayat Raj system are the Village Panchayat, Block Panchayat and District Panchayat. Accordingly, voters residing in panchayats should vote to elect their representatives to the village, block and district panchayats. So, the electronic voting machines that will be used in the civic polls at the panchayat level will have three ballot units. There is only one control unit for these three units.

A ballot unit will have the names and symbols of 15 candidates. The 16th is the END button. If there are more than 15 candidates, there will be another ballot unit in the booth. The display list on the ballot unit starts with the name of the 16th candidate onwards.

The first ballot unit will have a white label with the names and symbols of the candidates contesting for the gram panchayat ward. The second one, the ballot unit for the block level, will be labelled in pink and the ballot unit for district panchayat will be labelled in light blue.

If the green light on the top left of each ballot unit is lit, it means that the machine is ready to register the vote. Now you can vote.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

Press on the button next to the candidate you want to vote for. If there is a small beep and along with it the red light against a candidate’s name lights up, it means the vote has been registered.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

Votes can be cast on the other two ballots (for block and district panchayats) in the same manner as on the first ballot unit. A long beep can be heard if the ballots are cast properly on all the three ballots. This means that the voting is over.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

The voting process will be the same for municipality and corporation elections, too. The only difference is there will be only one vote to cast.


'NOTA' which denotes 'None Of The Above' appears as a button on the electronic voting machines being used for Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. It allows the voter not to choose any of the candidates.

For the civic polls, the voter won't have the option to register the 'NOTA'. There will be an 'END button' instead and it is placed below the names of the first 15 candidates displayed in each ballot unit. The button is red in colour.

If there are more than 15 candidates, then there will be two ballot units, but the 'END' button will be only on the first.

Kerala civic polls: A guide for voters

If you are not interested in voting for any of the candidates in the village, block or district panchayat polls, you may directly press the END button and return.

The END button needs to be pressed only if voting for one or two levels is skipped. There is no need to press it when a vote is registered for all the three panchayat levels. Once the END button is pressed, then that voter will not be able to vote for anyone else marked on the ballot unit.

Omitting one or two votes

Another option is to vote for candidates at one or two levels, say only those contesting for the gram panchayat or only for the gram panchayat and district panchayat.

In such a case you have to press the END button after registering the vote. For example, if you are interested in voting only for gram panchayat and block panchayat, you can register your votes for the two levels and on the third ballot unit (one for the district panchayat), you may press the END button.

If you intend to vote only for gram panchayat, then you may press the END buttons on the other two ballot units.

After you use the last ballot unit, one for the district panchayat, you will hear a long beep to indicate that the voting is complete.

In cases where one uses the END button, that vote is considered unregistered.

If the voter does not press the 'END' button, then the polling official must press the button and set the machine ready for the next person to vote.

Neither NOTA nor END in urban limits

Ballot units for elections in municipalities and corporations will not have a NOTA or the ‘END’ button. Polling officials will note separately if a voter who had received ink on his finger decides not to vote.

If the buttons of more than one candidate are pressed at the same time, or if a button is pressed more than once, only one vote will be registered.

Ask if in doubt

Do not hesitate to seek the assistance of the Presiding Officer in case of any doubt or difficulty while voting. One of the officer's duties is to help the voters. But no one should see you voting, you should maintain its secrecy. As soon as you register your vote, you should leave the voting compartment to allow the next person to cast his or her vote.

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