BHUBANESWAR: Odisha recorded a comparatively lower voter turnout of 61 per cent till 5 pm on Tuesday as glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and stray incidents of violence marred the third phase polls.
The polling was three per cent less than second phase and seven per cent less than phase one by this time. In the third phase, six Lok Sabha constituencies of Puri, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, Bhubaneswar and Keonjhar as well as 42 Assembly seats went to polls.
Election Commission sources said voter turnout in Cuttack and Puri was around 60 per cent while Dhenkanal recorded 63 per cent. Similarly, the polling percentage was little over 65 in Keonjhar and 58 in Sambalpur. However, polling in Bhubaneswar was dismal with less than 50 per cent voters turning up to exercise their franchise.
In 2014, the voter turnout in these six Lok Sabha constituencies was 72.8 per cent. Polling percentage in the last General Elections was 75.92 in Sambalpur, 80.54 in Keonjhar, 76.43 in Dhenkanal, 71.49 in Cuttack, 74 in Puri and 58.38 in Bhubaneswar. These constituencies witnessed a slow turnout of voters which continued throughout the day.
On the day, a polling official, Nabakishore Nayak, collapsed inside a booth at Kantapal in Parjanga while on duty. He was declared dead by doctors of Kamakhyanagar hospital.
Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar expressed grief over Nayak’s death and said the victim’s family will be provided compensation as per the guidelines of Election Commission. The CEO said despite initial hiccups, voting continued smoothly during the day. “The voter turnout is expected to increase as polling was still underway in many booths even after 6 pm and the final result was yet to reach the control room,” he said.
Akin to the second phase polls, glitches and cross-pairing of EVMs as well as stray incidents of violence were reported from various parts of the State. Technical snag in EVMs affected polling at booths 128 and 130 at Ranpur in Nayagarh and booths 96 and 109 in Banki Assembly seat.
This apart, EVMs malfunctioned at two booths in Puri town, one booth each at Balipatpur in Bramhagiri, Pipili and Badambadi in Cuttack, causing delay in voting.
EVMs also reportedly failed to work for sometime at booths 101, 135, 138 and 145 in Kuchinda. In the State Capital, voting was disrupted at two booths in Ekamra-Bhubaneswar. Polling was also delayed slightly at booth 118 in IRC Village due to functional error in the voting machine. Poll violence was reported from Bramhagiri where an EVM was allegedly damaged by some individuals over cross-pairing.
On the day, Congress leaders met the CEO seeking repolling at Ghasipura while BJP leaders also levelled allegations of booth rigging in some parts of the State during the elections. The CEO said he has recommended repolling at two booths in Baramba and Deogarh where voting was cancelled due to cross-pairing of EVMs.