Heavy turnout in Punjab and Goa

70% turnout; minor clashes, EVM glitches in Punjab

February 04, 2017 11:33 pm | Updated February 05, 2017 11:07 am IST - CHANDIGARH:

Women stand in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in a village, 25 km from Amritsar, on Saturday.

Women stand in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in a village, 25 km from Amritsar, on Saturday.

Despite overcast and cold conditions, the Assembly polls in Punjab saw a voter turnout of 78.62% on Saturday.

“Voter turnout was 78.62% with Mansa district witnessing the highest polling at 87.34%, while the least polling was seen at 71.9% in SAS Nagar (Mohali),” a spokesperson for Punjab Chief Electoral Officer told The Hindu . The State recorded 78.57% polling in 2012.

While polling across the State was by and large peaceful, a few clashes and incidents of firing were reported. Technical glitches with the Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) held up voting at a few booths.

The issue of fake votes being cast led to scuffles in several booths. Firing was reported from Lalu Ghuman in Tarn Taran assembly constituency following a scuffle between supporters of two rival groups. A similar incident was reported from Ruppawali village in Fatehgarh Churian constituency where supporters of two political parties got into an argument over the biased role of the presiding officers regarding casting of fake votes.

Reports suggested that EVMs with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) developed technical snags at few polling booths in Majitha and Sangrur. These were later replaced with regular EVMs. “VVPAT was being used for the first time and hence at a few places we did face problems due to which polling was hindered for a while. These machines were replaced,” said Chief Electoral Officer V.K.Singh.rocess was hindered for a while. These machines were replaced,” said Mr. V.K.Singh.

Minor clashes, EVM glitches in Punjab

“In the morning during mock trial 538 VVPAT machines were replaced and 187 were replaced during the conduct of poll especially in Majitha, Muktsar and Sangrur sistricts and poll was slightly delayed in 25 polling booths of Majitha and 10 booths of Muktsar and Sangrur,” he said, adding that 195 EVM machines were replaced during mock trial and 47 afterwards.

Rasing the issue of fewer hours of voting in Punjab, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted saying: “As per EC notification, polling time in Goa from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. but in Punjab, it is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (one hr less). Why?”

AAP leader Sanjay Singh met the Chief Electoral Officer and raised the issue with him, saying that it was a discrimination with Punjabis. “Voters in large number have failed to cast vote,” he said. Political analysts say though the polling turnout was good, it is likely to be little less than the 2012 Assembly polls, when 78.57 % of voters had exercised their franchise.

“It is a good turnout, but interestingly, a lower turnout than last Assembly elections hints that by and large this election has been bipolar instead of being triangular,” Pramod Kumar, director of the Institute for Development and Communication, Chandigarh told, The Hindu .

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