KOCHI: The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) has come out strongly against the state government’s decision to allow Covid-19 patients to cast their votes at polling stations citing that it would lead to electoral fraud and malpractices. According to KGMOA, it will be impossible for the polling officers to identify the voter who will be wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), face-shield and masks.
KGMOA state president Joseph Chacko said that postal ballots should be the only option for Covid-19 patients to vote. He said that it would be impossible for the electoral officers to recognise the voter. “I don’t think anybody would dare to remove the mask and see the face of the person who is Covid-19 positive.
There is scope for electoral fraud and just the ID would be enough for someone wearing a PPE to vote,” said Joseph Chacko. He said that the association has warned the government already. “Also the viral load would be high during the initial days of the infection and letting them come out and vote would put everybody out there at risk of contracting the infection,” he said.
He said that the state has to brace for yet another wave of the pandemic post local body elections and the ongoing Sabarimala season. “Some candidates are going around asking for votes without masks and in large groups. Covid-19 protocols are blatantly getting violated during the election campaign and the respective district administration should take steps to enforce the rules. Officers with magisterial powers should be deployed to take action against violators during the campaign,” said Joseph.
The State Election Commission has given the nod for the government proposal allowing Covid-19 patients and quarantined people to cast their votes directly at the polling booths during the last one hour.
No chance, says Commission
State Election Commissioner V Bhaskaran said that there is zero chance of electoral fraud. “The Health Department has all the details of the patients and we do not think there is scope for malpractices. We will be checking IDs and photos in the voters’ list. All other particulars will be cross-checked before allowing the person to vote. There is no chance for the voter to visit another booth and commit fraudulent activities,” he said. Bhaskaran said that there are agents and officers available at the booths to keep a note of the same.
The state has to brace for another wave of Covid-19 post local body elections and Sabarimala season