Around 77.5 per cent of the electorate of the Sankarankoil reserved constituency exercised their franchise in an incident-free by-election on a hot Sunday, surpassing the poll percentage of 75.80 recorded during the last Assembly election.
Of the 2,06,087 voters, comprising 1,02,921 men and 1,03,166 women, about 77.5 per cent cast their votes amid tight security.
Even before the polling began at 8 a.m., voters, especially women, were seen waiting in long queues in almost all polling stations across the reserved segment.
When electronic voting machines installed in the booths at Aththipattu, Naduvaipatti and Vannikonenthal developed snags, the units were immediately replaced and there was no significant delay in the polling.
While AIADMK candidate S. Muthuselvi cast her vote in the booth at Municipality Middle School in Kakkan Nagar, DMK candidate J. Jawahar Suryakumar, DMK MP S. Thangavelu and DMDK candidate K. Muthukumar exercised their franchise in the polling station at Gandhi Nagar Municipality Middle School.
“Since the AIADMK MLA, who represented this constituency consecutively for four times since 1996, let down the people who elected him to power, the electorate will overwhelmingly support the DMK candidate this time,” Mr. Thangavelu claimed after casting his vote.
On the other hand, Ms. Muthuselvi was quite confident of winning the battle of the ballot, saying that the whirlwind campaign by Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa and her achievements after assuming office in last May would ensure her resounding victory. Central Industrial Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force personnel, deployed for security, allowed voters to move further only after producing their electors' photo identity cards and the booth slips issued by the Election Commission.
As poll-related violence was expected, the police had made elaborate security arrangements. Each police station falling under the Sankarankoil Assembly constituency was brought under the control of a Deputy Superintendent of Police and each police patrol team was asked to cover only three polling stations.
When office-bearers of a political party served tea to the voters even as they were waiting at the Kokkukulam bus stop after exercising their franchise, a police patrol team, led by Inspector Sekar, confiscated the tea flasks even as the party workers raised slogans against the police.
Collector R. Selvaraj monitored the polling from the Election Control Room established at the Collectorate as arrangements had been made for webcasting from all 242 polling stations.
Amidst tight security, the electronic voting machines used in the by-poll were taken to Veerasamy Chettiar College of Engineering at Puliyangudi, where counting of votes would be taken-up on March 21.