7 to 7! One extra hour of polling time to thin out crowds at booth

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena

Thiruvananthapuram: Considering the persistent threat of COVID-19, social distancing norms need to be laid down and enforced for election processes too. Accordingly, the Election Commission of India has allotted one hour of extra voting time for the upcoming legislative assembly elections in four states, including Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The voting time for the April-May round of polls are from 7am to 7pm. Usually, the polling time across India is from 7am to 6pm.

Covid-positive voters would be given the opportunity to cast their votes in the last one hour of polling, 6pm to 7pm.

During the last assembly election in Kerala the polling time was till 6 pm, Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena said. However, polling will end at 6 pm in 298 booths in Wayanad, Palakkad Malappuram, Kannur and Kozhikode districts owing to the Maoist threat.

Screening, transportation facilities

All voters will be subjected to thermal scanning at the polling booths. If any voter is found to be having high temperature, he would be asked to wait for an hour! If temperature continues to remain high then he will be allowed to vote only in the last hour.

Three separate queues will be marked in each polling booth: for men, women and elderly/differently abled people.

The differently abled would be provided transportation facilities. If required special passes will be issued to them for travelling in KSRTC buses on the polling day.

Central paramilitary forces will be deployed in booths facing Maoist threat. In all 433 violence-prone booths and 549 sensitive booths have been identified in the state.

The total number of polling booths is 40,771. Webcasting facility will be available in half of them.

Bogus votes: Meena warns of suspension

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena has warned that polling officials who are found to be aiding or abetting the casting of bogus votes would face suspension and legal action.

Meena asked officials not to remain mute spectators in the event of violation of rules in the booths. They should maintain total impartiality. Polling officials should intervene strongly and prevent if they found any attempt for bogus voting.

The Election Commission will protect honest and diligent officials even after the completion of polls. If officials are facing any threat from the government authorities or political parties or if harassed, then they need to inform the EC, Meena advised.

Voter enrolment still on

If your name is missing on the voters list, you may still apply for inclusion even though the election date is nearing. As per rules applications may be sent for enrolment till 10 days before the last day of withdrawal of nomination which is March 22 in Kerala.

Those interested may apply on the website of the National Voters' Services Portal -- www.nvsp.in-- to get their names enrolled on the voters list.

The names of the new voters will be added to the supplementary voters list and published. You may confirm by checking your name on the website.

Kerala goes to polls on April 6.

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