: While initial trends in the morning led election officials to anticipate a record turnout for the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu, the end percentages settled at a number similar to that of the 2009 parliament polls.

Speaking to reporters here, Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar said that 72.8 per cent of 5.5 crore electorate cast their vote on Thursday compared to 73.05 per cent of the total figure in 2009. “The final turnout figures will be available on Friday. We expect it to be similar,” he said.

However, the actual number of voters who exercised their franchise this time was about 80 lakh higher than in 2009, he said. “You should keep in mind that the electorate has grown. Lot more people voted if you take actual numbers,” he said.

Mr. Kumar said the polling was peaceful across the State. “Officials replaced 129 Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) which mal-functioned. Voting was not suspended for any other reason but these glitches,” he pointed out. Five villages in five different constituencies boycotted polls despite persuasion from authorities.

On criticism of political parties about the imposition of prohibitory orders, Mr. Kumar said Section 144 helped authorities immensely in curbing money distribution. In the two days before polling, he said that over Rs 70 lakh was seized. “Eighty per cent of this was from a particular party,” he said.

Data provided by the authorities showed that the seven reserved constituencies together polled an average of 74.28 per cent as compared to 73.62 in 2009. However, Kanchipuram (SC), a constituency in proximity to Chennai, showed similar trends to the metro city by registering just 64.63 per cent voting, way below State average. This was a drop by almost 10 per cent from 2009 figures.

On glitches in the SMS-based monitoring system introduced by the commission, he said that issue was faced with the server initially. But this was rectified.

(With inputs from

V. S. Palaniappan)