District Election Officers
District Collectors have been designated as District Election Officers in all the 14 districts in the State. There is a Deputy Collector (Election) and an Assistant each in district to assist the District Election Officer. The District Election Officers co-ordinate and supervise all works in the respective districts or in the area within their jurisdiction in connection with preparation or revision of electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to Local Self Government Institutions subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the State Election Commission. The Commission provides funds to various officials for meeting election expenditure through the District Election Officers.
The Election Deputy Collectors have been designated as the Assistant District Election Officers for Municipalities and Corporations and the Deputy Director of Panchayats of the districts as the Assistant District Election Officers for Panchayats.
Electoral Registration Officers
As per section 14 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 and section 72 of the Kerala Municipality Act, 1994, the electoral roll for each constituency or ward, as the case may be, shall be prepared and revised by the Electoral Registration Officers who shall be such officers of Government or of a local body as the State Election Commission may, in consultation with the Government, designate or nominate in this behalf. The Secretaries of the Grama Panchayats and Municipalities are designated as Electoral Registration Officers for the preparation and revision of electoral rolls for all the constituencies comprised in the Grama Panchayats and Municipalities concerned. The Additional Secretaries of the Municipal Corporations are designated as the Electoral Registration Officers of the Municipal Corporations.
Section 15 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and section 72 of the Kerala Municipality Act provide for the designation of one or more persons as Assistant Electoral Registration Officers to assist the Electoral Registration Officers in the performance for their functions. The Assistant Secretaries/Junior Superintendent /Head Clerk, Accountant of the Grama Panchayat are designated as Assistant Electoral Registration Officers to assist Electoral Registration Officers. For Municipalities, PA to Secretary, Revenue Officer, Municipal Engineer & Superintendent and for Municipal Corporations Deputy Secretary, Revenue Officers, PA to Secretary, Council Secretary, Accounts Officer & Engineers are designated as the Assistant Electoral Registration Officers.
The State Election Commission shall, in consultation with the Government, designate or nominate one or more Returning Officer who shall be an Officer of the Government or of a Local Self Government Institution for every Panchayat/Municipality for every election to fill a seat or seats in the Panchayat/Municipality. It is the general duty of the Returning Officer to do all such acts and things for conducting the elections as provided by the Act and Rules or Orders made there under. The State Election Commission appoints one or more persons as Assistant Returning Officers to assist any Retuning Officer in the performance of his function.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A RETURNING OFFICER
The Kingpin for the conduct of any election is the Returning Officer. He occupies the most important position in all the affairs connected with the election. It shall be his general duty to do all such acts and things as may be necessary for effectually conducting the election in the manner as provided in the Act and Rules or Orders made there under. The main duties of the Returning Officer are as follows :-
The Returning Officer shall -
1. draw up well in advance a programme for the smooth conduct of election;
2. procure the materials, forms etc. in adequate quantity;
3. issue of public notice of election in Form No. I of the conduct of Election Rules;
4. Receive Nomination papers and deposit from candidates;
5. ensure that the names and serial numbers of the candidates and their proposers as entered in the nomination paper are the same as those entered in the electoral roll;
6. Conduct a preliminary examination of nomination papers ;
7. administer the oath or affirmation to the candidates and obtain their signatures thereon;
8. publish the list of nominations received in Form No.3;
9. conduct Scrutiny of nomination papers;
10. record the reasons in brief for rejecting any nomination paper;
11. publish list of validly nominated candidates in Form No. 4;
12. receive notice of withdrawal of nomination;
13. allot symbols to the contesting candidates;
14. Publish the list of Contesting Candidates in Form number 6;
15. convene meetings of candidates and political parties to discuss problems relating to the smooth conduct of election;
16. impart training to Polling Personnel in the all aspects of election including Electronic Voting Machine and arrange rehearsal classes;
17. make arrangements for printing of ballot labels for the ballot units of Electronic Voting Machine, ballot papers for tendered votes and postal votes and despatch postal ballot papers in time;
18. prepare Electronic Voting Machine, do the pairing and the candidate setting in the presence of candidates/their election agents;
19. depute polling teams for the conduct of poll with Electronic Voting Machines and other polling materials;
20. make effective supervision of the poll;
21. transport and store Electronic Voting Machines under proper security arrangements;
22. make arrangements for counting of votes.
23. declare results of the election;
24 . take steps for the safe custody of Detachable Memory Module and the packet containing used tendered ballot papers, marked copy of the electoral rolls and all other relavant records relating to election in the Treasury;
25. Keep the nomination papers and personal details of the candidates furnished in Form 2A in the custody of the Returning Officer himself, as these items do not come within the purview of those papers which are to be kept under the safe custody in Treasury as per rule 55(2) of the Rules. In the event of transfer, the Returning Officer shall hand over these papers to his successor/the officer who is taking his charge, after making necessary entries in the appropriate register.
ASSISTANT RETURNING OFFICERS
The process of an election is so vast that, all the works related to elections cannot be handled properly by the Returning Officer alone. Therefore, the State Election Commission has appointed one or more Assistant Returning Officers to assist the Returning Officer in the performance of his function (See Section 98 of the Kerala Municipal Act and Section 42 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act). Under the law every Assistant Returning Officer shall be competent to perform, subject to the control of the Returning Officer, all or any of the functions of the Returning Officer. When the Assistant Returning Officer performs any of the functions of the Returning Officer, he shall sign the papers as “Assistant Returning Officer” and not as “for the Returning Officer” He shall, however, not perform any of the functions of the Returning Officer which relates to scrutiny of nominations unless the Returning Officer is unavoidably prevented from performing the said function.
The District Election Officer shall appoint a Presiding Officer for each polling station and such Polling Officer or Officers as he thinks necessary for the polling duty in any election to Local Self Government Institutions. It is the general duty of the Presiding officer at a polling station to see that the poll is conducted in free and fair manner.
Section 40A of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 and Section 96 A of the Kerala Municipality Act, 1994 provide that the State Election Commission may nominate adequate number of higher officials of Government as Observers in consultation with the Government for observing the election of the Panchayat or Municipality. The Election Observers shall assist the Commission to ensure a fair and equitable election and shall discharge such other functions as may be entrusted by the Commission.