From newlyweds, a heartwarming moment of childbirth, to tribals and trans people turning out in numbers, polling booths on Wednesday were witness to an inclusive, vibrant and peaceful voting in Karnataka.
According to the Election Commission of India, which put the overall voter turnout at the close of polling on Wednesday at 72.68 per cent, over 94,000 senior citizens and PwDs (people with disabilities) cast their votes from home in Karnataka, in what the poll panel said was a first in India’s electoral history.
Polling was largely peaceful in all 224 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, with not a single incident at 58,545 polling stations that warrant repolling.
Advance planning, use of technology, exhaustive reviews and strict monitoring ensured the smooth conduct of elections, the EC said at the close of polling on Wednesday.
While the overall polling was recorded at 65.69 per cent till 5 pm on Wednesday, the turnout rose to 66.02 per cent as the day wore on.
Many voters, who arrived at their designated polling stations at the closing hour, were allowed to exercise the franchise. Many were seen queueing up outside polling stations at 6 pm, the stipulated closing time, the EC informed.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, with fellow election commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel, ensured advance planning and extensive monitoring for a smooth conduct of the Karnataka polls.
Bypolls were also held on Wednesday for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency of Punjab, Jharsuguda Assembly seat of Odisha, Chhanbey Assembly constituency of Uttar Pradesh, to fill up seats vacated post the death of sitting members, Suar Assembly seat of Uttar Pradesh (due to the disqualification of a sitting candidate) and the Sohiong Assembly constituency of Meghalaya, where was polling had been adjourned previously due to the death of a candidate.
Voting percentages of 50.27 per cent for Jalandhar; 68.12 per cent from Jharsuguda; 39.51 per cent from Chhanbey (SC); 41.78 per cent from Suar and 91.39 per cent from Sohiong(ST) were recorded by the poll panel at 5 pm.
Meticulous planning and regular and exhaustive reviews with chief secretaries and directors general of police of neighbouring states and other law enforcement agencies went into ensuring a smooth, free, fair, inclusive and accessible polling in Karnakata on Wednesday.
Webcasting was arranged in over 30,000 polling stations while adequate CAPF and micro observers were deployed at critical booths. CEC Kumar, while thanking the voters of Karnataka, said, “In the past 6 elections held in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura and now in Karnataka, out of over 1.26 lakh polling stations, repolls were held only in 4 polling stations in Nagaland.”
As part of the commission’s initiative to provide a comfortable polling experience to women voters, 996 all-women polling stations were set up. These booths were unique as they had all-women polling staff and security personnel.
Newlyweds with cheerful faces were seen queuing up outside booths as polling kicked off at 7 am on Wednesday.
Such was the enthusiasm among voters on the day that a 23-year-old pregnant woman, out to get her finger inked at Kurlagindi village of Ballari, went into labour outside the booth and delivered a newborn, the EC informed.
Female officials and fellow women voters helped her deliver the baby, the poll panel informed further.
Also, for the first time, a Home Voting facility was provided for octogenarian and PwD voters with benchmark disabilities. Form 12D was filled by 80,250 senior citizen (80yrs+) voters; 19,279 PwDs and 15,328 essential service personnel in Karnataka. Of these, a total of 94,931 senior citizens and PwDs cast their votes from home.
Transgender voters, too, participated enthusiastically in the dance of democracy on Wednesday. All necessary facilities for disabled and disadvantaged voters, including ramps, drinking water dispensers, toilets, and wheelchairs were arranged to enable hassle-free polling.
Childcare centres were also arranged across polling stations in Haveri district to facilitate women voters who were out with their children.
737 theme-based and ethnic model polling stations were set up. At 239 polling stations in the state, voters were greeted by PwD staff. Also, as part of an initiative by the EC to inspire young voters to participate in the festival of democracy, 286 polling stations were managed by the youngest available staff. Over 11.71 lakh registered first-time voters (18-19) exercised their franchise in Karnataka this year.
Further, according to the poll panel, the cVigil app was used widely to register and resolve complaints within a response time of 100 minutes. Out of a total of 18,321 complaints received till 5 pm on May 9, 16,551 were found to be correct and disposed of.
Maximum complaints were received from Bagalkot (3,511) and Chitradurga (2314) while the least number of complaints were received from Chamrajnagar (20) and Yadgir (35) districts.
Among the different categories, the maximum number of complaints were received for posters/banners put up without permission (10,695). Out of 439 complaints received for property defacement, 436 were found to be correct while of over 700 complaints received for money, liquor and gifts distribution, 443 were found correct.
Further, of 104 complaints received for firearms display and intimidation, 83 were found to be correct and acted upon. Nearly 25,000 permissions were granted to political parties through the SUVIDHA portal for the facilitation of activities like door-to-door campaigning, helicopter permissions, video van permissions, street corner meetings, applications for rallies, vehicle permits, etc.
Also, sustained efforts to monitor the election-related expenditure in the state helped the poll panel realise its goal of ‘inducement-free’ elections. As of Wednesday, a total of over Rs 375 crore seizures were made by different enforcement agencies which is a 4.5 times increase from previous elections. Increased seizures were recorded under all heads — cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies.
This report is filed by ANI news service.