Kerala

Orders placed for 7 lakh special postal ballots

Supporters of Jaseela Fajas, Left Democratic Front Independent candidate in Ward 32 of the Malappuram municipality, take to campaigning on the Kadalundipuzha at Hajiyarpalli, near Malappuram.   | Photo Credit: Sakeer Hussain

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Roughly seven to eight lakh special postal ballot papers may be required for electors who are active COVID-19 patients or in quarantine to vote in the coming local body polls in accordance with the new guidelines published by the State Election Commission.

''We have placed orders with government presses for seven lakh ballot papers now. If more are needed, Returning Officers can place orders depending on the numbers,'' said State Election Commissioner V. Bhaskaran on Friday.

The commission, he added, has directed District Collectors to prepare a list of officers who can be deployed as special polling officers (SPO) and special polling assistants (SPA) for 'home delivery' of the special postal ballots.

Under the new guidelines the commission published on Thursday, the special voters (COVID-19 patients and the quarantined) are split into two groups: electors who test positive or go in quarantine within 10 days of the election and till 3 p.m. on the day before the election will be included in the certified list. These electors would be issued the special postal ballot papers. The second group -- who test positive or are quarantined after 3 p.m. the day before and till the end of voting -- can visit polling booths directly after everyone else has voted.

Distribution

In appearance, the special postal ballots will resemble conventional postal ballots routinely issued to government staff, Mr. Bhaskaran said. ''In the case of the special voters, the commission has assumed the additional responsibility of distributing the postal ballots. The SPO and SPA would be accompanied by a police officer. The candidates also will be informed about the schedule of visit for the delivery and collection of the postal ballots,'' he said.

The guidelines require the voter to be informed, either through SMS or over phone, in advance about the date and approximate time of visit of the poll officials. The team should first seek the voter's consent for delivery of the ballot paper. For speeding up things, the SPOs are authorised to attest the declaration forms that the voter has to sign before the postal ballot is handed over. In the case of a hospitalised voter, the medical officer concerned also can sign it.

If the voter refuses to accept the ballot paper, it will be recorded in the register and Form 19B.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 11:54:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/orders-placed-for-7-lakh-special-postal-ballots/article33193685.ece

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