Byelections in the State, of late, witness high turnouts of voters. But, Yercaud has created a record of sorts by clocking 89.24 per cent. In the process, it broke the previous record of 88.24 per cent registered in Tirumangalam in January 2009.
Though the turnout exceeding the 80-per cent mark in byelections was recorded thrice (Vandavasi and Pennagaram) during the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)’s previous regime (2006-2011), it was the first time since the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’s return to power in May 2011 that there was such a high voting percentage.
A host of factors are attributed to the Yercaud’s record. High degree of political mobilisation, the availability of two months for the principal parties to canvass votes and the focussed attention on the part of the poll authorities to security arrangements are among the reasons cited.
Durai Murugan, former Minister and senior leader of the DMK, says that as the announcement for the byelection was made two months before the day of polling, the parties had more time to do their campaigning. In a systematic manner, his party, which began its work early, did its job. He also acknowledges the work of the Election Commission in ensuring such a turnout and says that given the amount of security personnel deployed for the poll work, the confidence level of voters too went up. At the same time, he says the option of None of the Above (NOTA) on electronic voting machines did not have much impact.
A senior Minister, speaking on the condition of anonymity, is not surprised by the turnout.
He recalls that even in the 2011 Assembly election, the turn out was 85.41 per cent. Besides, Yercaud has been “our traditional stronghold,” he adds.
A senior official in the Elections Department says the services of 3,000 security personnel were utilised for the poll work. The authorities had also seized Rs. 1.57 crore. He notes that in the last three days prior to the day of polling, the authorities did not receive any complaint of distribution of money.