High voter turnout marks India’s second phase of polling — aside from EVM malfunctions, violence at poll booths, and internet shutdowns

People wait in multiple queues to cast their votes for the second phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections at a polling station in Assam's Nagaon on April 18, 2019iANS


Eleven Indian states and one union territory were up for vote today in the second phase of India’s general election. Security was increased in ‘vulnerable’ and ‘critical’ constituencies after multiple incidents of violence were reported during the first phase.

As a precautionary measure, mobile internet services were stalled in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that saw a voter turnout of 45.46%.

West Bengal, which saw a voter turnout of 76.14% — the highest during the second phase of the elections in India — had more central forces employed at Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Raiganj polling stations.

The only incident to occur was one EVM being vandalized in the Chopra constituency during a clash between members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC). Security personnel had to launch tear gas shells and lathi charge at the alleged local trouble makers.

TMC was also accused by the Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) of attacking the vehicle of the CPM’s Raiganj candidate, Mohammad Salim in Islampur.

Manipur and Assam also recorded high voter turnouts of 76.15% and 76.14% respectively, and the polling was relatively uneventful in both statess. Even the lone union constituency, Puducherry, saw a voter turnout of 75.91%.

Aside from West Bengal, security was also tightened in the Maoist affected regions of Odisha — particularly the Kandhamal, Bargarh and Bolangir constituencies — where a few booths will still have to face re-polling, but not due to violent outbreaks but due to technical glitches in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPATs).

The state’s Chief Electoral Officer, Surendra Kumar has recommended repolling of booths in Sundergarh, Bonai and Daspalla, citing negligence on the part of the polling officers on duty.

Technical problems arose due to lapses on part of the polling officers, action will be taken against those officers for dereliction of duty.

Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar

Despite the commotion, Odisha saw a voter turnout of 57.97%.

Uttar Pradesh, with a voter turnout of 62.06%, also faced EVM issues at the Gantholi Village polling booth in Mathura where voting did not begin as scheduled. One village in Fatehpur Sikri — Magoli Kala — chose to boycott the elections altogether complaining that the government had failed to provide adequate irrigation facilities in the area.

Maharashtra faced similar EVM glitches in the morning but still managed to garner a 60.72% voter turnout.

Karnataka, where the primary concern was that citizens wouldn’t show up to vote, saw a 67.55% voter turnout. The same was 65.33% in Tamil Nadu amid multiple allegations of voters being bought off in the days leading up to the second phase of the election.
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