Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], November 11 (ANI): Kerala government has decided to bring in an amendment to allow COVID-19 positive patients and those advised quarantine after the deadline to apply for postal ballots to cast their vote in last hour of polling during the upcoming local body polls.
Under the current law, polling is from 7 am to 6 pm. The amendment proposes to set aside the last hour of polling (5 to 6 pm) for those COVID-19 infected and those who have been barred from voting as they are in quarantine.
The decision was taken by the state cabinet that met here on Wednesday. The cabinet decided to recommend to Governor Arif Mohammad Khan that relevant sections of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipality Act be amended to facilitate voting for the COVID-19 patients.
Under the current system, those who have tested COVID-19 and those who are in the quarantine have the opportunity to vote by post. However, those in this category must submit their application to the Returning Officer three days before the postal vote or within the time limit prescribed by the State Election Commission. In addition, the voter list marked with the postal vote must be stamped two days before polling day. Those who become ill on election day or two days before and those who have been barred from contact will not be able to vote because of this. The cabinet decided to propose the amendment to allow all people to exercise their franchise.
The Cabinet also entrusted the Health Department to prepare a guideline and provide it to the Local Self Government Department regarding the special facilities to be provided at polling stations for those affected by Covid-19 and those who are in quarantine.
In the context of Covid-19, the Department of Health has also been asked to prepare guidelines for providing special protection to polling officials and agents.
Earlier, the Election Commission has proposed proxy votes for those who test positive after the deadline to apply for postal votes ends. But in the all party meeting convened by the Election Commission, all major parties had opposed to proxy voting.
According to Department of Information and Public Relations of Kerala government, 7,007 new active cases of Covid-19 were reported in the state on Wednesday as 64,192 samples were tested during the last 24 hours (test positivity rate 10.91 per cent).
Of the cases detected, 6,152 were caused by local transmission and the contact source of infection was not traceable in 717 cases. There were 52 medical staffers among those infected. At the same time, 7,252 patients have recovered from the disease. Meanwhile, 29 recent deaths were confirmed today as due to Covid taking the related death toll in the State to 1,771, stated the government. (ANI)