Three Congress candidates have filed a petition before the Kerala High Court alleging irregularities over the handling of postal ballots ahead of the Kerala Assembly election. Nemom candidate K Muraleedharan, Vamanapuram’s Anad Jayan and Vyppin’s candidate Deepak Joy approached the HC requesting safe custody of postal ballots. They asked the Court that postal ballots should be stored in the same place where voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines are kept and be provided with the same security level.
Reports had surfaced earlier this week that polling officials collected postal ballots from essential service staff in unsealed boxes in Ernakulam and Kannur districts. There were reports that the sealed boxes were missing from several centres. This led to a huge controversy over the postal ballot issue.
The petitioners alleged that the system of collecting and storing postal ballot is compromised. They also claimed that election officials are state government employees that have sworn allegiance to the ruling government. Reportedly, there are allegations that party workers have received information from election officials. These party workers are reaching the homes of absentee voters and are watching the vote collection process.
There have been several incidents where postal ballot collectors have not put the postal ballot in the sealed box provided for the task. Postal ballot service users are not in control over their vote once they hand it over to the ballot collector. Muraleedharan was also among the many Congress candidates to allege bogus votes in the voters’ list. After Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Muraleedharan alleged that there are more than 7,000 bogus votes in the Nemom constituency.
Two other Congress candidates — VS Sivakumar and Veena S Nair — have also alleged that bogus votes were added in Vattiyoorkavu, Nemom and Thiruvananthapuram Central constituency. Sivakumar alleged that the Vattiyoorkavu constituency has 8,400 bogus votes, Thiruvananthapuram Central has 7,600 and Nemom has over 6,300.