Voters in five districts in Kerala seem to have put Covid-19 fears behind them to come in droves to exercise their franchise in the first phase of elections to the local bodies in the state.
At least 55 per cent of the electorate had voted by 2.15 pm, according to official figures. Polling had started on a brisk note at 7 am this (Tuesday) morning, with voters queuing up in long lines at a number of places, especially in the rural areas, debunking theories that the fear of contracting the virus could dissuade many from walking to the nearest polling centre.
Districts that went to the polls on Tuesday are Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki in the southern and central parts of the state. Till 2.15 pm, the polling figures available were: Overall 55.03 per cent; Thiruvananthapuram 51.65 per cent; Kollam 55.68 per cent; Pathanamthitta 55.76 per cent; Alappuzha 58.11 per cent; and Idukki 57.10 per cent.
Among corporations, Thiruvananthapuram came in at 43.63 per cent and Kollam at 46.51 per cent. Kerala has been spared the Bharat bandh declared by farmers and allied organisations today. Voting will go on until 6 pm and the State Election Commission has said elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure that mandatory Covid-19 protocols are strictly adhered to.
Electors who tested positive or are quarantined after 3 pm on yesterday (Monday) will be permitted to exercise their franchise after all others have cast their votes by 6 pm. A mock poll was held at 6 am before the actual exercise began at 7 am.
In the first phase, elections are being held to 6,910 wards of the 395 local bodies in the five districts. They have, in all, 88,26,873 electors, including 46,68,267 women, 41,58,395 men and 61 transgender voters. The electoral rolls also include 42,530 new voters and 150 NRIs. In all, 24,583 candidates are in the fray. There are in all 11,225 polling stations with 1,697 of them in urban areas and 9,528 in rural areas.