A tenfold increase in postal ballots in the district has come as a surprise for senior officials of the district administration, ahead of the counting of votes which will be taken up on May 23.
The total number of postal ballots, which stood at 3,950 in the 2014 elections, has now gone up to 39,268 in 10 Assembly constituencies in this year’s election.
On an average, around 4,000 postal votes were polled in each constituency. Almost similar numbers have been polled for the Lok Sabha election too. Srikakulam has seven Assembly segments while two — Etcherla and Rajam — come under Vizianagaram Lok Sabha constituency. Palakonda comes under Araku Lok Sabha seat. The total 10 segments of respective Parliament constituencies got 39,553 votes by May 17, 2019.
Employees of the Union government, State government, public sector units, APSRTC and persons working in various armed forces actively participated in the election process by submitting their ballots in the offices of respective returning officers of the 10 constituencies.
Efforts pay off
The ECI’s Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) motivated many employees to participate in the democratic process, according to Joint Collector and SVEEP Nodal Officer K.V.N. Chakradhar Babu.
“We will accept postal ballots till 7 a.m. on the day of counting. The people who are yet to submit them should approach their respective returning officers so that their voting rights will not go in vain,” he added.
According to him, many employees and officials were tied up in election work and could not send their ballots immediately. In this backdrop, the district administration established facilitation centres where they submitted ballots. Helpdesks at the facilitation centres clarified doubts of employees and helped them in filling columns. For the first time, political parties have given top priority for postal ballots, thanks to tough fight in many constituencies. Last time, Rajam and Palakonda candidates of YSRCP won their seats by narrow margins.
YSRCP candidate Kambala Jogulu defeated former Speaker Pratibha Bharati by a margin of 510 votes in Rajam constituency. Palakonda YSRCP candidate V. Kalavati won the seat by a margin of 1,600 votes in the 2014 election. “Postal ballots may play crucial role in the 2019 elections. Their active participation may tilt results in many constituencies. That is why all the parties have tried their best to get the votes of those working in the armed forces and employees of all government organisations,” said Gunta Leela Varaprasad, political analyst and Assistant Professor of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar University-Srikakulam.