Mizoram Assembly Elections: Faulty EVMs, 'drunk' polling officials, delay polling as state records 75% voter turnout till 5 pm

Polling for 40-member Mizoram Assembly began at 7 am on Wednesday amid very tight security. Officials said that voting concluded at 4 pm. According to the election commission seventy-five percent voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm.

According to senior police officials in the state, at least 11,100 security personnel, comprising central paramilitary and state security forces, were deployed to ensure safety during polling hours. The official sources from the EC office said that at least 40 companies of the Central Armed Police Force, in addition to the state police force, were deployed to ensure free and fair polling.

MNF volunteers assist voters in Mizoram's Thentlang village. Joseph Lalrintluanga/101Reporters

MNF volunteers assist voters in Mizoram's Thentlang village. Joseph Lalrintluanga/101Reporters

Other than the 1,164 polling stations already present across the state, an additional 15 booths were created at Kanhmun village in Mamit district for the Bru refugees coming from six camps in Tripura. Kanhmun is a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, to facilitate voting by Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in Tripura for the past 21 years.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ashish Kundra said that around 40 polling stations, all managed by women, were also set up across the constituencies where the entire polling staff, including the police and security personnel, are women. Altogether, 47 of 1,179 polling booths were classified as 'critical', and as many as 'vulnerable', by the Election Commission.

Ahead of the voting to elect a new Assembly in Congress-ruled Mizoram on Wednesday, the authorities on Tuesday sealed India's borders along the northeastern state with Myanmar and Bangladesh, an official said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were among the political leaders who urged Mizoram voters to cast their ballots. Where Congress has fielded 40 candidates, the BJP had fielded 39.

 

67% voter turnout till 3 pm

Mizoram saw a strong start to polling, with a voter turnout of 29 percent recorded within the first four hours. It shot up to 40.68 percent by 12.30 pm, with the Champhai South constituency recording an even higher participation of 56.31 percent.

By 2.30 pm, Tuikum saw 56 percent turnout, Hrangturzo 55 percent and Thorang 59 percent. The overall voter turnout was 67 percent till 3 pm, while polling was held till 4 pm.

Zoranthanga said MNF will win in landslide victory; Thanhwala says no post-poll alliance with BJP

Former chief minister Zoramthanga, who was in power from 1998 to 2008, cast his vote and said that he was confident that his party MNF would win this time in a landslide victory. Zoramthanga is MNF's candidate from the Aizawl East- I constituency. Other candidates from the constituency are Laldinliana Sailo from the BJP, Lalrinpuii from NCP, K Vanlalrawna from INC, and independent candidates K Sapdanga and Zosangliana.

Zoramthanga also ruled out the possibility of a hung Assembly, adding that he was confident enough to form the party. He also said that one of the promises that the party would keep is the ban of liquor. "Congress had failed the Church and the people by selling liquor," Zoramthanga said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla cast his vote at Zarkawt at around 12.15 pm, expressing hope of winning a simple majority by bagging more than 27 seats. Thanhawla said the Congress would not forge a post-poll alliance with the BJP.

Polling hampered by EVM malfunctions, polling officials being caught inebriated

Mizoram's Joint Chief Electoral Officer Zorammuana told IANS that "a few EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and VVPAT (Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) devices were malfunctioning." Forty-two VVPATs, 25 ballot units and 19 control units were replaced following the malfunctions at various polling stations across Mizoram, Kundra said.

In a separate incident, three polling officials, including two presiding officers, in Mizoram's Lunglei district were removed from their duties after they were allegedly found in an inebriated state, attempting to assault other officials. The three persons were removed from the election duties with immediate effect and authorities concerned were asked to initiate departmental enquiries against them, a senior official at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer said.

Those who faced action include James RT Khuma, an Associate Professor at Government J Buana College, who was the presiding officer at a polling station in Lunglei South assembly seat. "He was found to be intoxicated in the DC office premises, was behaving in an extremely unruly manner and attempted to physically assault a senior officer in the presence of others," Lunglei Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer Ankita Chakravarty said in an order.

Polling booths connected via wireless communication

Gearing up its entire machinery for assembly polls in Mizoram, authorities decided to connect all polling booths through wireless communication for the first time leaving no "shadow areas" at all.

"For the first time in Mizoram's election history, all polling booths will be covered by wireless communication. It will help in timely reporting of every development and progress of the polling," Mizoram Deputy Inspector General of Police (Training & Armed Branch) Joseph Lalchhuana told PTI in an interview.

Till the last election in 2014 for the Lok Sabha, not all areas were connected through wireless technology and there was a delay in receiving information from far-flung booths, he added.

Lalchhuana, who is also the Assistant State Police Nodal Officer for the assembly elections, said: "By doing this (wireless connection), we have eliminated all shadow areas from Mizoram. Shadow areas means the place where there is no communication."

For operating the system as per the Election Commission of India guidelines, special training sessions were conducted for the Mizoram Police personnel and now everything is in place to conduct the polls efficiently, he added.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 28, 2018 18:45:44 IST

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