The rain gods had relented and the sun shone brightly throughout the day, but the voting percentage in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on Saturday was marginally lower than the record turnout in the first round.
About 59 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the second round involving 59 Assembly constituencies in nine districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The State Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said that it was not the final figure of vote percentage as full details were awaited from some of the districts.
Elections passed off peacefully, barring a couple of incidents in Kushinagar where the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate and State party chief, Swamy Prasad Maurya entered into an argument with a security personnel and baton charging by police near a polling booth. A polling official, Ghanshyam Mishra, died of brain haemorrhage in Campiarganj. The CEO said 16 other complaints of a minor nature were received.
The voter turnout in the 59 constituencies in 2012 was, however, much higher than the 43.47 per cent recorded in these Assembly constituencies in the 2007 polls and 46 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. According to Mr. Sinha, as compared to 2007, the corresponding increase in the turnout in 2012 was 36 per cent and 33 per cent when compared with the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
A comparative analysis of polling percentage in the nine districts where elections were held on Saturday showed Kushinagar recording the highest turnout of 63 per cent, followed by 61 per cent in Ghazipur, 60 per cent each in Azamgarh and Maharajganj, 59 per cent in Mau, 58 per cent in Gorakhpur, 56 per cent in Sant Kabir Nagar and 54 per cent each in Deoria and Ballia.
Voting started on a sluggish note in the morning with 7.4 per cent turnout recorded till 9 a.m. It went up to 18.9 per cent by 11 a.m. and around 34 per cent by 1 p.m. By 3 p.m., the turnout was 46.2 per cent and 52.5 per cent by 4 p.m. before closing at 59 per cent at 5 p.m.
On the voting percentage being comparatively low in the second round, Mr. Sinha told reporters that analysis has revealed that the area where elections were held on Saturday has traditionally been a low voting area. Moreover, the migratory population, especially labourers from eastern U.P., and those employed elsewhere may not have been able to cast their votes.
“This time no names were deleted and only additions in the voters list were made,” the CEO said. In the 2007 Assembly elections, 80 lakh voters in the 59 constituencies had exercised their franchise; in 2012 polls, 114 lakh voters cast their votes, which was 34 lakh voters more than the last time,” Mr. Sinha added.
Notwithstanding the addition of new voters, the fairly large voting percentage as compared to earlier elections has been a significant feature of the first two rounds of polling. More significant has been the turnout of youth and women voters. In fact, according to the CEO, the voting percentage of women voters was higher than that of their male counterparts. Clearly, the women have outshone the men.
In fact, the initiative taken by the Election Commission towards voters' awareness and facilitating the voting process has been a key element in the high turnout.