As curtains came down on the intense electioneering that lasted nearly a month, the stage is now set for polling in Ernakulam and Chalakkudy constituencies with the officials completing the necessary arrangements.
The final estimates show that the district has a total voter base of 22.92 lakh voters, spread across the four Assembly constituencies of Ernakulam, Chalakkdy, Idukki and Kottayam. Of this, 11,34,523 are men and 11,58,217 are women.
According to District Collector M.G. Rajamanickam, who is also the returning officer for Ernakulam and Chalakkudy constituencies, a total of 2,027 polling booths have been set up. Of this, 1,070 booths fall in Chalakkudy while the remaining 1,018 are for Ernakulam.
As many as 2,335 machines including the extra machines required in Ernakulam for providing the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option have been allotted. “The EVMs include a 10 percent reserve and arrangements have been made to replace the defunct machines with another within 20 minutes”, he said.
The voting machines have been handed over to the assistant returning officers (ARO) concerned after verification of the ballot unit and have been kept in the strong room now, Mr. Rajamanickam said.
No booth in the district has been identified as sensitive as per the criteria set by the Election Commission. However, the police have marked around 125 booths in 94 locations of the rural limits and 88 booths from 33 locations in the city as sensitive.
In Ernakulam, the Kataribag booth in Naval base has the largest number of voters. With just 20 voters, Ramanthuruthu in Kochi has the lowest number of voters.
The authorities are also planning to live-webcast activities from 10 select booths in Ernakulam, which include five in Vypeen, four in Kochi and one in Tripunithura Assembly constituencies.
The authorities have so far spent Rs 2.15 crore in election expenses in both the constituencies and allotted as many as 926 vehicle permits to candidates for campaigning.
As per the data compiled by shadow observers till March 4, Christy Fernandez, the LDF-supported independent candidate in Ernakulam, tops the list of election expenses at Rs. 61.20 lakh. He is followed by the rival candidate K.V. Thomas with Rs. 55.32 lakh.
BJP candidate in Ernakulam A.N. Radhakrishnan spent Rs. 20.56 lakh while Aam Admi Party candidate Anita Paratap could expend just Rs. 4.60 lakh.
Similarly, PC Chacko, the UDF candidate in Chalakudy spent Rs. 53.52 lakh and the LDF-independent candidate Innocent could use up Rs. 49. 9 lakh. The figures stand at Rs.11.96 lakh for the BJP candidate B.Gopalakrishnan and Rs.7. 60 lakh for A.M. Noorudin, the AAP candidate.
A thick security cover comprising 4,600 police personnel and two companies of the Special Armed Police from Karnataka will be deployed at the polling stations. Besides, a three-tire security system police with night; vision equipment and gazetted officials will be placed at the counting centres.
Meanwhile, instructions to all the excise officers and sub-inspectors assigned for the duty to close all the BEVCO outlets, including bars, in the district from 6 p.m. on Tuesday till the end of polls have been issued. The authorities have set up the counting station for Ernakulam at the Maharaja’s College while that of Chalakudy in Bharatmata College and St.Paul’s International School, Kalamassery.