Lok Sabha polls: Kerala records impressive 77.16 per cent vote

Polling continued past 10 PM in many booths.

Thiruvananthapuram: The electoral heat generated in the state over many contentious national and local issues resulted in an unprecedented turnout on Tuesday.

By 10 p.m., 77.16 per cent votes were cast but the voting continued even after that in many booths as voters queued up in large numbers. The turnout in the state in 2014 was 74.04 per cent. The final figures this time would be available by Wednesday morning.

All the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies recorded over 70 per cent vote. Wayanad where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is in the fray registered over 80 per cent. Thiruvananathapuram and Pathanamthitta, where the BJP hopes to score victories, witnessed an increase of four per cent and eight per cent votes respectively compared to 2014. The percentage went up by four in Thrissur where actor Suresh Gopi is in the fray.

There were complaints of technical snags in EVMs at some places. However, Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena said the snags were reported only in less than one per cent machines. The state used 35,193 EVMs, 32,746 control units and 44,427 ballot units. He said the average failure rate for EVMs was between five and six per cent as reported in many states. However, the officials here could keep it under one per cent.

With the VVPAT machines installed in all polling stations for the first time, each voter had to wait for seven seconds for the slip to appear on the screen. This led to additional delays. Out of the 35,193 VVPAT machines, 500 developed snags.

As the IMD had predicted rains accompanied by lightning between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., voters had rushed to the booths in the morning itself leading to long queues.

The poll percentage crossed the 50 mark by 2 p.m. Queues became longer in the afternoon. “All those who reached the polling stations by 6 p.m. were allowed to vote,” said Mr Meena.

The leaders of the rival fronts said the high turnout would favour them. While the UDF claimed that the voting pattern suggested a clear anti-Modi and anti- LDF government wave, the LDF said it was a vote for strengthening democracy, secularism and against communalism. The BJP said the lotus would bloom in the state. The results will be known only after a month on May 23.

EVMs throw polling out of gear

The Electronic Voting Machines malfunctioned at many booths in various parts of the state giving rise to polling delays and complaints from the voters as well as leaders, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who voted in Kannur.

Mr Vijayan criticised the election officials for failing to ensure the proper working of the EVMs. “I had to wait for a while and was told that the EVMs are not working. I came to know that this was the case in other places also,” Mr Vijayan told reporters in Kannur after he voted.

Mr Thushar Vellappally, NDA candidate in Wayanad, demanded re-polling after an EVM malfunctioned at a polling booth there. “It is reported from booth number 79 - CMS Higher Secondary School, Arappatta in Muppainad panchayat, Wayanad, that the voting machine is damaged. A vote is not being cast even after pressing twice,” a letter sent by Thushar Vellappally through chief election agent G. Sinil Kumar said.

EVMs malfunctioned at Cherthala in Alappuzha district and Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram.

Faulty machines interrupted polling at seven booths in Alathur, 11 booths in Palakkad, seven booths in Kasargod and 10 booths in Pathanamthitta.

In Chowara near Kovalam, during the mock polling it was found that all the votes went to the BJP candidate. Following this, the EVM was replaced. After 76 votes were polled, the EVM again recorded technical snags and it also had to be replaced.

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena, however, dismissed the report. “There is false news spreading that in the polling booths in Kovalam, every vote is being cast for lotus. We double-checked and found no such thing is happening. The humidity caused by thunderstorms on Monday night affected the sensitive EVMs in a few booths in Thiruvananthapuram, Cherthala and Pathanamthitta. EVM malfunctioning was reported in less than one percent booths in the state,” he added.

Mr K. Muraleedharan, UDF candidate in Vatakkara, alleged that the snags were deliberate for discouraging the UDF supporters from voting. He would submit a complaint to the election commission on Wednesday on the issue.

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