Mizoram recorded a peaceful turnout of 60 percent in the elections to the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state. The polling percentage was likely to go up as the final reports from some inaccessible polling stations were awaited as also arrival of the postal ballots including 11,000 Bru votes in the Tripura relief camps, state chief electoral officer Ashwani Kumar said. (JPN/Agencies)
He described the turnout as good compared to the 50.93 percent in the last parliamentary polls held in 2009 but lower than the 83.41 percent in the last Assembly elections on November 25 last year.
Except for minor technical snags, polling was smooth and peaceful in 2,126 polling stations across the state, the CEO said.
Around ten Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines had to be replaced as also three EVMs, two in Aizawl district and one in Serchhip district due to technical problems.
There were complaints of polling officials conducting the polls without deleting votes polled during the mock polls in three polling stations, he said.
The candidates for the lone Lok Sabha seat were sitting MP and ruling Congress nominee CL Ruala, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Michael Lalmanzuala and an independent candidate Robert Romawia Royte of the United Democratic Alliance, a platform of eight opposition parties including the main opposition Mizo National Front and the BJP.
In the by-poll to the Hrangturzo assembly seat held simultaneously, around 75 percent votes were polled.
The by-poll was necessitated as Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla who had won from two constituencies in 2013 Assembly polls vacated the seat.
VVPAT machines develop snag
Seven VVPAT machines developed technical snag during polling, election office sources said here.
By VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) mechanism, a voter can confirm whether his/her vote cast through the Electronic Voting Machine has gone to the candidate of his/her choice.
While three VVPAT machines developed problems during mock poll in the morning, four more machines were found to be not functioning after the actual polling began at 7 am, the sources said.
Engineers of the Bharat Electronics Limited, manufacturers of the machines, were sent to repair them.
The state election department was using VVPAT in 385 polling stations across 10 Assembly segments within Aizawl city limits, all the eight district headquarters and other major towns.
Elaborate security arrangements
Security arrangements have been made across the mountainous state, which shares borders with Myanmar (404 km) and Bangladesh (318 km), besides Tripura and Assam. Eight companies of central paramilitary forces apart from six state armed battalions as well as unarmed policemen are looking after the security. International borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh and inter-state borders have been sealed, official sources said.
The polling was originally scheduled for April 9 but the Election Commission postponed it to April 11 after Mizoram-based civil society bodies called a 72-hour shutdown in the state from April 7 in protest against its move to allow Bru refugees to vote in Tripura.
The organisations had demanded that the Election Commission should allow the refugees to cast their vote in Mizoram, which was turned down.
A triangular battle
Mizoram's lone Lok Sabha constituency this time is seeing a triangular battle between sitting member CL Ruala of the Congress, Robert Romawia Royte of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and M Lalmanzuala of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The main opposition UDF is an alliance of eight parties led by the Mizo National Front (MNF), which ruled the state for two terms (1998-2003 and 2003-08). The UDF is supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The MNF had won the Lok Sabha seat, reserved for tribals, in 2004.
Ruala, and his main rival Robert Romawia Royte, an independent candidate sponsored by the United Democratic Front (UDF) - an alliance of eight opposition parties - were among the first voters to cast their votes.
While Ruala exercised his franchise at Tuikhuahtlang polling station in Aizawl South-II assembly segment at 7 am, Royte cast his ballot at Chhinga Veng polling station within the Aizawl East-II Assembly at around the same time.
The by-election for the Hrangturzo assembly seat is also being held Friday. The by-election was necessitated after Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who won from two constituencies in the assembly polls held on November 25, vacated the seat.
Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu of the Congress is pitted against UDF leader H. Lalduhawma, who unsuccessfully contested the last election from the same seat.
Mizoram recorded a peaceful turnout of 60 percent in the elections to the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state.
The polling percentage was likely to go up as the final reports from some inaccessible polling stations were awaited as also arrival of the postal ballots including 11,000 Bru votes in the Tripura relief camps, state chief electoral officer Ashwani Kumar said.