The Local Self Government election to 1199 bodies will be conducted in three phases on December 8, 10, and 14, said the State Election Commission today, November 6. The commission has told media persons that they had decided to go ahead with the election protocols after discussing with the Health Secretary, State police chief, and various political parties. The commission has assured that the counting will start on December 16, and the new winners will swear in by Christmas or by the end of the year. The Model Code of Conduct will begin from today onwards.
The voting will happen from 7 am to 6 pm. The timing has been increased by an hour to accommodate the social distancing protocols that are in place at the polling stations and the delays that it might cause. The commission also mentioned that there are ongoing discussions to consider providing PPE kits to Corona positive patients to come and vote. However, the plan seems unlikely because there are various factors yet to be considered.
Except for Mattanur, the elections will be conducted in three phases to elect members to 941 Grama Panchayat, 152 Block Panchayat, 14 Jilla Panchayat, 86 Municipality, and 6 Corporations. The election will be conducted in 34,744 polling stations to 21,865 wards, where 2.71 crore voters will be selecting their representatives. Of the total number of voters, 1.29 crore are men, 1.41 crore are women, and 282 are transgenders. While a final list of voters was published on October 1, the list will be updated with additional numbers by November 10.
On December 8 — Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, and Idukki
On December 10 — Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Wayanad
On December 14 — Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, and Kasargod
Regarding the candidates and their name lists, the last date to file the name would be November 19, which will go through close inspection on November 20. The last date to withdraw the candidature would be November 23. In another update, the commission has increased the expenditure limit of the candidates in the specific segments. The Grama Panchayat candidates’ limit has been increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. For Block Panchayat and Municipality candidates, it has been increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 75,000, and for Jilla Panchayats and Corporations from Rs 60,000 to Rs 150,000.
Ahead of the announcement of the dates, the State Election Commission has published the guidelines for the upcoming local body polls. The guidelines pertain to the conduct of candidates and members keeping in mind the Covid protocols as well as the reservation protocol.
Apart from the poll officers using masks, face shields, gloves and sanitising the poll booths, the guidelines will dictate how many people can participate in the process. When it comes to the candidates, they are not to organise marches, public gatherings, and the concluding festivities. Moreover, the authorities have recommended that the candidates shouldn’t accept garlands, and other such gifts to avoid the spread of infection. The commission has also encouraged the use of social media for election campaigning and added that no more than five people are allowed to visit houses for seeking votes.
In regards to the poll booths, the Election commission has said that there won’t be more than 10 booth agents at a polling booth, and only three voters will be allowed in the booth at once. The polling stations have to ensure that sanitisers, water and soap are available at all stations for the people. However, there is yet to be anything defined about the postal voting system for those in quarantine and Covid positive. While, the system is open to those in quarantine and those Covid positive, the various aspects of it is still questionable. The commission is willing to accept all postal votes until those that arrive early morning before the counting.
In regards to the reservation of seats this year, three corporations — Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, and Kozhikode — will have women at the helm. Of the 14 Jilla Panchayats, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, and Kasargod will have women presidents. Women will also head 44 Municipalities.