SHILLONG, FEB 27: Elections in the state were carried out peacefully with the voters’ turnout being recorded till 5pm at 75 percent of the over 21.40 lakh electorate who exercised their franchise to elect the eleventh Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on Monday.
Addressing media persons, chief electoral officer FR Kharkongor said, “Till 5 pm the voters’ turnout is approximately at 75% but the figure is likely to rise because we are yet to get reports from many districts and polling stations across the state.”.
In the last 2018 elections, the turnout of voters was at 86.9 percent.
He said that polling is still going on in four districts – East Jaintia Hills, Ri Bhoi, South West Garo Hills and West Garo Hills and a clearer picture can be given only by tomorrow.
“We do expect the figures to rise up because as per our initial assessment also we had assessed that close to 200 polling parties would be returning after 9pm so then we would get clearer data. About 400 plus polling stations would be voting beyond 9pm,” he said.
He said that polling was peaceful in the state.
“By and large it was smooth with very less hiccups. However, we had a few machine malfunctioning but not to a very substantial degree. There was also failure to erase mock poll data during the mock poll from three polling stations – two in East Garo Hills and one in East Jaintia Hills.”
A total of 1830 polling stations of the total 3419 are under webcast.
The CEO said there were some apprehensions that voters in six polling stations under Mawhati constituency would perhaps have their freedom to exercise their franchise interfered with.
“However due to the cooperation of the Assam police and also due to the prompt coordination between the state government of Meghalaya and state government of Assam and the counterparts forces, all the voters of the six polling stations were able to come and cast their votes in these interstate border polling stations,” he added.
The CEO also highlighted the challenges faced by the polling parties, who have to travel through difficult terrains to reach the polling stations. There were a total of 183 polling stations which were under the shadow zones. “We are grateful to the police that they were able to set up 264 police radio stations to ensure that through the police network we are able to communicate with all our teams,” he said.
The EC had also set up a temporary polling station at Leprosy centre under Nongpoh constituency for the leprosy patients. This also captures the spirit of the Election Commission’s view that no voters should be left behind, Kharkongor said.
Against those applying for form 12D, he informed that 91.8% of the 80 years old and above and 95% of the persons with disabilities (PwDs) casted their vote today.
Giving an overview of the arrangement for the counting on March 2, the CEO said there will be 13 counting centres all across the state.
“We have 22 companies that have been retained for guarding the strong room and also for post polls contingencies,” he informed.
A total of 27 counting observers and 549 micro observers have also been deployed by the Election Commission.
“We also have arrangement of the VVPAT counting booth wherein 5 polling stations will be taken at random for counting of the VVPAT slips to cross check the figures whether they tally or not in the control unit and the VVPAT slips,” he said. According to him, the counting of the postal ballots will precede the counting of the control units.