A peaceful exercise barring minor incidents; 85% in Puducherry

In what could be a record turnout, an estimated 75-80 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections on Wednesday. The voting percentage could break the all-time high of 76.57 recorded in 1967.

In the Union Territory of Puducherry, over 85 per cent cast their vote.

In Tamil Nadu, polling was largely peaceful. Braving the scorching sun, voters started thronging the polling stations as soon as voting began.

Emphasising that the voting figures were provisional and based on projections, Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar told a press conference here that Karur district recorded 86 per cent.

Among other districts, it was 64 per cent in Kanyakumari; Chennai 66; Tuticorin 74, Coimbatore 75; Madurai 77 and Villupuram, Salem and Dharmapuri 81 per cent each.

Among the high-profile constituencies, Tiruvarur, where Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi is contesting, witnessed 75 per cent polling; in Srirangam, where All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa is one of the candidates, the turnout was 73 per cent. In Rishivandiyam, where Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder Vijayakant is in the fray, 82 per cent of the electors cast their vote.

Mr. Praveen Kumar said the final figures would be known only after scrutiny of documents by observers. In some places, the voting was still on as late as 7.30 p.m. Information from remote areas had not yet fully been obtained.

The CEO said repolling would be held on Friday in some booths in a few constituencies. In one booth each in the Arni and Killiyoor constituencies, there were discrepancies between the number of voters in the relevant registers and votes polled by electronic voting machines. At 7.10 p.m., violence broke out outside a couple of booths in the Neyveli constituency in Cuddalore district. In the process, an EVM was broken.

In a booth coming under Salem West, a 60-year-old man was killed on the spot in police lathi charge. In Pattukottai, a car of an independent was attacked.

At Minnathur near Vallam in Thanjavur district, an AIADMK supporter was hacked to death by two youths following an altercation near a booth.

A total of 1,260 voters attached to a couple of booths at Paruthikudi in the Thiruvidaimarudur constituency boycotted the poll stating the booths were far away from their localities. Though the Thanjavur district administration had made arrangements to operate two special buses, the voters stuck to their decision.

Asked about the high turnout, the CEO said the Election Commission's efforts, political mobilisation and the role of voters contributed to it.

A visit to several booths in Chennai and Kancheepuram districts revealed that distribution of voter slips had generated greater interest among voters in the polling process.

Also, the electoral rolls were more accurate, with names of the dead and those who had moved out scrupulously removed.