We expect record turnout, says poll official

Mizoram will be the first State in the country to use the Voter Verifiable Printer Audit Trail (VVPAT) system on a large scale when it goes to the polls on Monday.

In this system, a printer with a drop box is attached to every electronic voting machine for printing a paper trail of the vote so that a voter can check whether his or her vote was correctly recorded by the EVM. The VVPAT was first introduced in Nagaland in the September 4 by-election to the Noksen Assembly constituency.

Of the 40 Assembly seats in Mizoram, the VVPAT will be used in 10 constituencies: Aizawl North-I, Aizawl North-II, Aizawl North-III, Aizawl East-I, Aizawl East-II, Aizawl West-I, Aizawl West-II, Aizawl West-III, Aizawl South-I and Aizawl South-II.

Joint Chief Electoral Officer (Mizoram) H. Lalengmawia told The Hindu that VVPATs had been sent to all 217 polling stations in these constituencies. Polling officers and teams were given several rounds of training on the use of the system and wide publicity was given about introducing it along with the EVM, he said.“Mizoram has a high literacy rate and we have seen great enthusiasm among voters. We are expecting a record turnout this time,” Mr. Lalengmawia said, adding it was 82 per cent in the 2008 Assembly polls. Counting will be taken up on December 9.

A total of 6.9 lakh voters will decide the fate of 142 candidates including six women in Monday’s vote. The prominent candidates include Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and his Cabinet colleagues, the former Chief Minister and opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga, Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) leader Lalhmangaiha Sailo and Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) chief Lalduhoma. Mr Lal Thanhawla is contesting from two constituencies — Serchhip and Hrangturzo. Mr. Zoramthanga is in the fray in East Tuipui.

In 2008, Mr. Zoramthanga lost in both Champhai North and Champhai South, while Mr. Lal Thanhawla won from both Serchhip and South Tuipui.

Now the Congress is contesting all 40 seats. The Mizoram Democratic Alliance has put up common candidates in all constituencies — the MNF in 31, the MPC in eight and the Maraland Democratic Front in one.

Going it alone, the ZNP is contesting 38 seats.

The Congress swept the 2008 Assembly polls, coming back to power and ending the 10-year-rule of the Zoramthanga-led MNF government. It won 32 seats. The MNF won only three seats, while the MPC and the ZNP won two each and the MDF one.