16 May 2016 14:55:44 IST

Just over 69% turnout till 5 PM in TN; Kerala sees 71.1%

Dip in pace of voting in Chennai after 3 pm; voter turnout likely to go up to 75% in Kerala

Tamil Nadu recorded a voter turnout of a little over 69 per cent in Assembly elections at the end of 5 PM, as rural voters seemed more enthusiastic than their city counterparts in exercising their franchise, going by available statistics.

As many as 69.19 per cent of voters in 232 Assembly segments had cast their votes by 5 PM, electoral authorities said even as there was a dip in the pace of polling after 3 PM.

“Voting pace came down after 3 PM and it was not as high as it was in the morning,” Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni told reporters.

He was responding to a query on polling percentage showing an increase of just around six per cent between 3 PM (63.70) and 5 PM, despite the EC’s massive efforts to ensure high voter turnout by way of its #Mission100percent campaign.

Rural vs. Urban

Rural segments in Dharmapuri such as Pennagaram put up a good show, Lakhoni said, adding that Chennai district seemed to be heading towards the lowest polling percentage in the current hustings.

The Harbor constituency here polled just around 53 per cent whereas Pennagaram in Dharmapuri around 85 per cent till 5 PM, he said.

“This (voting percentage) is the hard fact. We will have to analyse the reasons behind it,” he said. However, the final voting percentage will be known only at around 8 PM he said, and added that polling had been largely peaceful except for stray incidents.

For instance, at Muthugulathur in Ramanathapuram, a man tried to damage an EVM in a fit of rage finding his name missing from voters’ list but the machine suffered no damage.

The man was arrested, Lakhoni said.

In Madurai central constituency, the chief polling officer in a booth was replaced after she allegedly misled a visually-challenged voter to vote for a person not of his choice. Polling came to a close at 6 PM in most of the constituencies even as voters who came before the cut-off time were allowed to vote, officials said.

The process of safely moving EVMs to respective strong rooms is underway. They will be opened for the ballots to be counted on Thursday.

Elections in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, deferred following allegations of bribing of voters, will be held on May 23 and counting of votes on May 25.

71% turnout in Kerala

Meanwhile in Kerala, a voter turnout of an estimated 71.7 per cent was recorded today for the Kerala assembly polls that passed off peacefully amid tight security.

Election office sources said 71.7 per cent is the tentative polling percentage and it was likely to go up to 75 per cent after finalisation of voter turnout. Around 2.60 crore people were eligible to vote for the 140-member Assembly.

Congress-led ruling UDF and CPI-M headed opposition LDF are in a neck and neck electoral fight in the state where BJP is striving hard to make a maiden entry into the assembly.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Opposition leader and 93-year-old CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan, CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, 83-year-old Kerala Congress(M) supremo and former Finance Minister K M Mani were among the 1,203 candidates in the electoral arena.

For Chandy, this was the 11th consecutive straight contest from Puthupally, while for Mani, it was the 13th stint from Pala.

Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan, said to be LDF’S Chief Ministerial candidates, contested from Malampuzha and Dharmadam respectively.

More women than men

Kerala has a total electorate of 2,61,06,422 people, of which female voters number 1,35,08,693 and males 1,25,10, 589. There are two members of third gender in the electoral rolls.

Except for stray incidents of violence, no major incidents were reported from any part of the state, police said.

Over 52,000 police personnel were stationed across Kerala as part of security. Special security arrangements including web casting, were made in 3,176 polling stations identified as ‘sensitive, critical and vulnerable’

Due to rains in some parts of Kerala, polling which was slow in the initial hours, picked up in the afternoon touching 71.7 per cent at close.

Total voter turnout in the 2011 state assembly polls was 75.11 per cent.

People were seen queueing up in various booths in the state, much before polling began this morning, especially in some coastal areas.

In a related incident, a 70-year-old voter, who was standing in a booth at Perambra in Kozhikode, collapsed and died before casting his vote.

Nuns and priests, including Cardinal Mar George Alancherry of Syro Malabar church and Latin catholic Major Archbishop Soosai Pakiam were among those who voted.

Some incidents of malfunctioning of voting machines in certain booths were also reported. But they were rectified immediately and polling was not affected.