Kerala to allow COVID-19 patients missing postal ballots to vote in last hour in civic polls

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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 11 (PTI)The Kerala government on Wednesday decided to bring an ordinance for enabling voters who test positive for COVID-19 or quarantined after the deadline for seeking postal ballot to vote in the last hour of polling in the local body elections to be held next month.

The state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, decided to recommend to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for promulgating the ordinance amending relevant sections of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipality Act.

The government had recently amended the acts to extend the voting time by an hour till 6 pm and also to provide postal ballot facility to COVID-19 patients.

An official release said at present those seeking postal ballot needto apply to the returning officer three days prior to the voting day and submit their votes in a sealed manner to the concerned authority.

'The amendment is to allow those who test positive or gets quarantined after the deadline (to cast their vote),' the release said.

The cabinet also decided to direct the health department to issue specific guidelines on the arrangements required for the COVID-19 patients and the quarantined people.

The department would also issue guidelines on the safety measures for the staff on polling duty.

The polls are to be held in three phases.

While the first phase on December 8 will cover the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki, the second phase on December 10 would be held in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad.

Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod would go to the polls in the third and final phase on December 14. PTI RRT VS VS