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Opinion

Covid-19 patients missing from postal ballots will be allowed to vote in the last hour in civic polls: Kerala government

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The Kerala government decided on Wednesday to pass an ordinance to allow voters who test positive for Covid-19 or who are quarantined after the deadline to request a postal ballot to vote in the last hour of elections 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 the enactment of the ordinance amending the relevant sections of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Law and the Kerala Municipality Law.

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The government had recently amended the laws to extend voting time by one hour until 6 p.m. and also to provide postal voting facilities to Covid-19 patients.

An official statement said that currently those looking for a postal ballot must submit a request to the teller three days before voting day and send their votes in a sealed manner to the corresponding authority.

“The amendment is to allow those who test positive or self-quarantine after the deadline (cast their vote),” the statement said.

The cabinet also decided to order the health department to issue specific guidelines on the arrangements required for Covid-19 patients and people in quarantine.

The department would also issue guidelines on security measures for voting staff.

The elections will 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 will take place 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.

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