BHUBANESWAR: With no reports of violence, Odisha recorded over 68 per cent (pc) voter turnout till the last reports came in from first phase simultaneous polls held across four Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) and 28 Assembly segments on Thursday. While it is at least six pc less than the previous elections, the numbers are slated to surge since final reports from the constituencies were awaited. Nabarangpur PC may see voters turnout soar past 80 pc mark.
In 2014, as many as 74.67 pc voters had exercised their franchise in the four PCs. However, polling, by and large, was smooth and peaceful with stray incidents of EVM malfunction. Sources said polling was delayed by nearly an hour in Jeypore Municipality, Jodi village under Meerabali panchayat and Bhakurguda under Kottapeta panchayat in Rayagada district as the EVMs were found defunct. Voting was resumed after the machines were replaced.
Though polling was to be conducted from 7 am to 4 pm in 20 of 28 Assembly segments which are affected by Left-wing extremism and in rest of the constituencies till 6 pm, long queues were witnessed in front of many booths till late in the evening.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar said despite initial hiccups of delay in voting due to technical glitches in EVMs at a few places, the polling was peaceful in Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Berhampur and Koraput constituencies.
“A total of 296 voting machines reported snags which is a failure rate of less than one pc of the total machines deployed for the first phase polling. The machines were replaced immediately. The voter turnout is likely to change as the figures from remote areas are yet to be received,” he said.
The first phase elections will decide the electoral fate of 217 candidates including 26 from the four Lok Sabha seats, which were won by the ruling BJD in 2014. A total of 191 candidates including 16 women are in the fray in 28 Assembly seats.
According to official sources, no votes were polled in 15 booths in Maoist-hit Chitrakonda Assembly segment in Malkangiri district. Despite heavy security arrangements, voters did not turn up mostly due to fear of Maoists. Polling officials had to return after 4 pm.
The booths included nine from Swabhiman Anchal and six from rest of the constituency. A total of 11,433 voters were to cast their votes in the 15 booths. Two helicopters flew polling officials to the area.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik thanked the people who came out in large number to vote. He exuded confidence that the results to be better than the 2014 elections.
Earlier, the CM and Union Ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Prdahan urged young voters to go out in large numbers to cast their votes.
“As voting round 1 begins for Lok Sabha Elections and Odisha Elections 2019, appeal all voters of Berhampur, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur & Koraput, especially first time voters to come out in large numbers to cast their votes to build glorious future for Odisha and the country,” Naveen had tweeted.