All set for local body polls today

Staff Reporter
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District Collector declares public holiday to enable all to cast their votes

Preparations for elections to the local bodies in Ernakulam district were completed with the distribution of polling materials required for the 3,533 polling booths going off in an orderly manner at the 26 centres in the district on Sunday.

Maharaja's College; Model Engineering College; Bharat Mata College; Thripunithura Government Sanskrit College; Government Girls' High School, Aluva; Municipal Town Hall, Kalamassery; and Government Mangayil VHSS were among the centres close to the city limits from where polling materials were distributed.

Distribution of voting machines, ballot papers and other polling materials began at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The polling officials, who had undergone training in different phases in the run up to the elections, were given time and instructions to check the voting machines and other materials they received from the Returning Officers at the various centres.

District Collector Dr. M. Beena, who is also the Chief Electoral Officer for the district, had issued instructions to the Returning Officers to report any case of polling officials failing to report for duty. However, there were no reports of absentees till the time of filing this report.

The District Collector has instructed some polling officials who reported for duty late on Sunday to continue at their respective polling materials distribution centres till Monday afternoon to meet any contingency.

A total of 35,000 polling officials (25,000 for direct polling duties), mostly drawn from government services, have been deployed for the smooth conduct of elections to the 111 local bodies—84 grama panchayats; 14 block panchayats; the district panchayat; Corporation of Cochin; and 11 municipalities, including the new ones of Thrikkakara, Eloor and Maradu. No untoward incidents were reported from the city or its neighbouring areas. A total of 7,500 personnel have been deployed to oversee law and order in the city and the rural areas.

23.24 lakh voters

The district has an electoral strength of 23.24 lakh voters of whom 11.38 lakh are males and 11.85 lakh females. They will elect 2,023 representatives to the local bodies from a total of 6,718 candidates.

Electoral authorities have suggested that voters preferably carry identity cards— electoral identity cards, driving licences, PAN card, passport, bank passbook and so on—to prove their identity in case polling officials demand a proof. A statement from the District Information Office said here that identity cards were not compulsory for casting one's vote.

The District Collector has declared a public holiday on Monday to enable everyone to cast their votes in the elections to the local bodies. The District Collector has also conveyed instructions from the Election Commission to business and commercial establishments to extend a day's leave with pay to enable their employees to cast their votes. The instruction has been issued under Section 145 (A) of Panchayati Raj Act.

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