2019 Lok Sabha polls: EVM bugs delay polling in southern Tamil Nadu

Tirunelveli: Malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVM) hampered time-bound polling in many of the polling booths in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Kanyakumari and Tenkasi Lok Sabha constituencies on Thursday. There was consequent waiting by voters at some places even up to two hours until the EVMs' came back on stream.

The DMK candidate, Gnana Dhiraviam waited for around one hour to cast his vote at the Avaraikulam polling booth in Tirunelveli constituency, due to EVM fault. His rival candidate, the AIADMK candidate and eminent lawyer Mr. Manoj Pandian too was made to wait for around 45 minutes at a polling station in Karisalpatti village in the constituency for the same reason. Polling in as many as ten polling stations in Tirunelveli got delayed by an hour, according to a polling officer.

In Thoothukudi Lok Sabha constituency, complaints of malfunctioningwere reported from 30 booths. Of them, 17 of these complaints persisted for more than one hour resulting in the delayed commencement of polling.

Polling in the booths at Bolpettai, Thangammal school, Vallanad and K Velayuthapuram near Kazhugumalai in the constituency commenced only at 8.30 am due to EVM faults.

At a polling booth in the VGS Girls higher secondary school in Thoothukudi, the faulty EVM machine was replaced by a new one, which too broke down at around 1.30 pm. It took around one hour to for the officers to resume voting in that booth after repairing the EVM.

Voting in around 13 polling booths got delayed in Kanyakumari constituency and around ten complaints about malfunctioning of EVMs were reported in the Tenkasi constituency.

Responding to the widely reported delay in the commencement of polling due to the malfunctioning of the EVMs, Thoothukudi Lok Sabha DMK contestant, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi said that it was hence the opposition parties' demanded the restoration of paper ballot system. Meanwhile, as many as five persons were injured in a clash between BJP and AMMK cadres near Boothapandi in Kanniyakumari district on Thursday. The trouble started with AMMK cadres objecting to BJP men's presence within 100 metres of a polling booth at Veeravanallur. This developed into a wordy quarrel which was contained due to police intervention in time. However, after the polling was over in the evening, cadres of both parties attacked each other with deadly weapons, injuring five in all.

Lower turnout this timePoll percentage in general in the four Lok Sabha constituencies of Thoothukudi, Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi (reserved) in the southern districts  was lower on Thursday, when compared to the previous parliament election in 2014.

Despite a fiercely fought contest in Thoothukudi between two high profile women candidates, Kanimozhi of DMK and Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan of BJP, the expected poll percentage did not match.

The total voter turnout in Thoothukudi in this election is 65.78 per cent, which is two percentage points lesser than the figure registered in the 2014 election. Vilathikulam Assembly segment that went for by-poll along with the Lok Sabha election registered a steady polling, with a voter turnout of 70.21 percent.

The poll percentage in Kanyakumari constituency at the southern tip of the state too did not show any surge either in favour of or against any party. The poll percentage in 2019 is 65.55 percent against a voter turnout of 67.53 per cent in the 2014 polls.

Tirunelveli LS constituency registered the lowest among the four southern LS constituencies in the south. Beginning with a very low polling of 2.37 per cent in the first two hours at 9 am, it ended the day with a voter turnout of 65.78 per cent against 67.77 per cent seen in 2014.

Tenkasi (reserved) LS constituency too was not different in this election, when compared to the nearby three constituencies. Unlike in 2014, when it registered the highest polling percentage of 73.76 in the south, this time Tenkasi clocked only 70.39 per cent.

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