Chennai | Tamil Nadu recorded a voter turnout of 73.76 per cent in the assembly election with Palacode in Dharmapuri District recording the highest of 88.50 per cent but it was less than the 2011 polls. Barring a few minor incidents, polling went off peacefully, Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni said, adding one person was arrested for trying to distribute money.
In 2011 assembly polls, the turnout was 78.12 per cent. Many constituencies recorded over 80 per cent polling which include Kulithalai in Karur district with 87.55 per cent, Pennagaram in Dharmapuri district 87.61 per cent and Edappadi in Salem district 85.7 per cent, Lakhoni said. According to officials, Jolarpet and Sholinghur both in Vellore district polled 80.5 and 81.69 per cent respectively. Harbour segment here polled the lowest at 55.27 per cent.
Lakhoni, however, indicated that there may be some changes in the final tally on the overall turnout since the final figure is being collated in a few constituencies which include Kolathur and Villivakkam here. He said in urban regions like Chennai, the turnout was comparatively lower and hence the overall average was low.
Answering a question, he said whoever had come to the booths before 6 pm were allowed to vote and rains did not necessitate extension of time to vote. On the Rs 570 crore seized from three containers in Tamil Nadu on Saturday, he said orders have been received from top EC authorities to transport the cash-laden trucks to SBI’s chest at Coimbatore considering safety aspects. He said the consignments would, however, continue to be under the control of income tax authorities.
The Election Commission had earlier said at Delhi that the cash seized from three containers belongs to the State Bank Of India but it will not be handed over to the bank before a proper probe by Income Tax Department. On cash seizures, Lakhoni said of the Rs.105.2 crore seized so far, Rs.47.7 crore has been returned to its lawful claimants following submission of supporting documents.
On poll boycott by three villagers in Tuticorin, Tiruvallur and Virudhunagar districts, he said district authorities held talks with them and later they turned out to vote, he said.
To a question on repolling, he said it would be decided after scrutiny of observers’ reports and if necessary. Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and AIADMK leader M Thambidurai cast his vote at a government school in Sinthagampalli in Bargur constituency.
BJP Tamil Nadu unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan, and DMDK chief Vijayakanth, his wife Premalatha voted in Virugambakkam in Chennai. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president EVKS Elangovan cast his vote in Erode District and DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi in Mylapore here. CPI(M) State Secretary G Ramakrishnan exercised his franchise here and VCK chief Thol Thirumavalan in Ariyalur district. Top officials like Chennai Police Commissioner Ashutosh Shukla and Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni also cast their votes here.
On turnout being low when compared with 2011 assembly polls, Lakhoni said with more number of voters on rolls, overall poll percentage would work out less. He also cited the revision exercise of electoral rolls and resultant changes in final numbers as among likely factors. When we add more and more names, the overall percentage will reduce, he said. He cited the turnout in Lok Sabha polls in 2014 (73.67 per cent), and said a similar final poll percentage has now emerged.
He said during Parliamentary polls which saw a turnout of 73 per cent, total number of voters in the state was lesser than now. Now, the percentage is also higher and the final numbers will also be high. Juxtaposing the present turnout with that of 2011 assembly results, he said, when compared in terms of electors who voted then (2011) and now, the present numbers will be high though the final percentage may be low.
Asked if rains had hit the polling process, he said, if polling had been hit due to showers, there should have been crowd at polling stations by around 6 pm when rains receded fully. However there was no such crowds. Whoever wanted to vote did it within the specified time, he added.
Ballot boxes are being transported to counting centres across the state amid tight security, he said.