The polling booths on Wednesday in Karnataka witnessed inclusive, vibrant, and peaceful voting, with a range of individuals turning out in large numbers to cast their votes. The diverse group included newlyweds and a heartwarming moment of childbirth, as well as tribals and trans people, highlighting the inclusivity of the state’s electoral process.
According to the Election Commission of India, which put the overall voter turnout at the close of polling on Wednesday at 72.68 percent, over 94,000 senior citizens and PwDs cast their votes from home in Karnataka, in what the poll panel said was a first in India’s electoral history.
Polling was largely peaceful in all 224 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, with not a single incident at 58,545 polling stations that warranted repolling.
Advance planning, the use of technology, exhaustive reviews, and strict monitoring ensured the smooth conduct of elections, the EC said at the close of polling on Wednesday.
While the overall polling was recorded at 65.69 percent until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the turnout rose to 66.02 percent as the day wore on.
Many voters who arrived at their designated polling stations at the closing hour were allowed to exercise their franchise. Many were seen queueing up outside polling stations at 6 p.m., the stipulated closing time, the EC informed.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, with fellow election commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel, ensured advance planning and extensive monitoring for a smooth conduct of the Karnataka polls.
Bypolls were also held on Wednesday for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency of Punjab, the Jharsuguda Assembly seat of Odisha, the Chhanbey Assembly constituency of Uttar Pradesh, to fill up seats vacated post the death of sitting members, the Suar Assembly seat of Uttar Pradesh (due to the disqualification of a sitting candidate), and the Sohiong Assembly constituency of Meghalaya, where polling had been adjourned previously due to the death of a candidate.
Voting percentages of 50.27 percent for Jalandhar, 68.12 percent for Jharsuguda, 39.51 percent for Chhanbey (SC), 41.78 percent for Suar, and 91.39 percent for Sohiong (ST) were recorded by the poll panel at 5 p.m.
Meticulous planning and regular and exhaustive reviews with chief secretaries and directors general of police of neighbouring states and other law enforcement agencies went into ensuring a smooth, free, fair, inclusive, and accessible polling in Karnataka on Wednesday.
Webcasting was arranged at over 30,000 polling stations, while adequate CAPF and microobservers were deployed at critical booths. CEC Kumar, while thanking the voters of Karnataka, said, “In the past 6 elections held in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura, and now in Karnataka, out of over 1.26 lakh polling stations, repolls were held only in 4 polling stations in Nagaland.”
As part of the commission’s initiative to provide a comfortable polling experience to women voters, 996 all-women polling stations were set up. These booths were unique as they had all-women polling staff and security personnel.
Newlyweds with cheerful faces were seen queuing up outside booths as polling kicked off at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
Such was the enthusiasm among voters on the day that a 23-year-old pregnant woman, out to get her finger inked at Kurlagindi village in Ballari, went into labour outside the booth and delivered a newborn, the EC informed.