There was no complaint about the EVMs, there was no repolling and no complaint during counting in all the 250 constituencies of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. However, the Election Commission this time is more concerned about the apathy of urban voters.
“Out of 59723 polling stations, there was no repoll at any of the polling stations, no incidence of mismanagement or crowd control or chaos of any kind was noticed. There was no complaint at any stage about EVMs malfunctioning. More importantly, results with less than 1000 victory margin were also accepted and there was no contest or complaint,” said a top Election Commission official on Friday.
There are five seats in Himachal Pradesh where the margin of victory was less than 500. For instance, the margin was just 60 in Bhoranj constituency and was 171 for the Sri NainaDeviji seat. Similarly, there are two seats, Rapar and Somnath in Gujarat, where the margin was 577 and 922 respectively.
“So huge is the trust in election integrity that no party or candidate contested the results or even asked for a recount. There was also no repeat of the usual rhetoric of EVM manipulation,” added the official.
The official highlighted the urban apathy in both the states. “It is very surprising. Many voters in the urban areas simply don’t bother to come out and vote. They might be commenting about elections and democracy on social media platforms, but many of them appear to be indifferent to polling,” said the official.
Speaking about migrant voters in urban clusters, the official explained that the majority of them don’t surrender the voter cards of their native places. “In this situation, they are not able to cast their votes even if they want to. This is a major issue. The Commission has taken note of this and it is working on this issue,” added the official.
In Gujarat, Surat, Rajkot and Jamnagar recorded lower than the state average voter turnout of 63.3% in the first phase of the assembly elections. While the voting percentage increased in many constituencies, the average voter turnout percentage was dampened by urban apathy in these important districts.
In Himachal Pradesh, the urban assembly constituency of Shimla recorded the lowest at 62.53% (less by 13 percentage points) as against the state average of 75.6%. As per the Election Commission, Gujarat’s cities have shown the similar urban apathy trend during voting on December 1 in the assembly elections thus pulling down the percentage of voting in the first phase.
There was a conspicuous gap in voter turnout between the rural and urban constituencies. The gap was as wide as 34.85% if it is compared with the rural constituency of Dediapada in Narmada district which recorded 82.71% and that in the urban constituency of Gandhidham in Kuchchh district which witnessed 47.86% voter turnout.
To address the urban apathy trend across the country, the Commission had directed all the CEOs to identify low voter turnout constituencies and polling stations to ensure targeted awareness interventions.