At least 74.02 per cent of the total 2.74 crore voters exercised their franchise for the Kerala Assembly election according to preliminary assessment when polling drew to a close at 7pm in the state on Tuesday. The final figures have not been released yet.
The turnout might crawl up to 77 per cent once the final tally is ready.
The ECI said 73.69 per cent of male voters, 73.48 per cent of female voters and 37.37 per cent of transgender voters exercised their franchise as per the preliminary assessment.
The state witnessed massive turnout till afternoon but incessant rain in central Kerala reduced the footfall later.
The polling percentage is high in Kannur, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Thrissur districts. Polling is also high in Nemom, Kazhakoottam and Vattiyoorkavu constituencies in Kerala. Voting was peaceful except in some places. Four people collapsed and died while waiting to vote.
In 2016, the polling percentage was 77.35, while in 2019 Lok Sabha elections 77.68% of votes were registered.
The constituencies in north Kerala and Thiruvananthapuram district witnessed brisk polling on Tuesday. Over 38 per cent votes were cast in the first five hours of polling for the single phase election to the Kerala assembly.
Polling began at 7am in the 140 constituencies in Kerala where its 2.74 crore voters would elect representatives for the 15th Legislative Assembly. As many as 957 candidates are in the poll arena.
The election was held with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol across the 40,771 polling stations in the state. The polling concluded at 7pm, except in nine constituencies under risk of Maoist threat. Polling ended an hour early at 6pm in these constituencies.
There were 40,771 polling stations and 1,12,324 polling booths in Kerala. This is an increase of 89.65 per cent from the last election.
COVID-19 patients and those in quarantine cast their votes during the final hour of polling. They wore Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) while voting.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's daughter Veena Vijayan, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, registered her vote wearing PPE in the evening.
UDF candidate in Kochi, Tony Chammany, who had been in quarantine since he was tested positive, also cast his vote wearing PPE kit.
Four people died
Two voters, including a woman, standing in the queue in Aranmula in Pathanamthitta and Chavittuavary in Kottayam collapsed and died.
Gangadharan (75), a native of Njarakkulangara, died while waiting at a polling booth in AJB School in Palappuram near Ottapalam in Palakkad district. He collapsed inside the polling booth while officials were checking his voter ID. Another one was died in Haripad.
Minor incidents of violence
Tempers ran high at Kattayikonam in Kazhakootam constituency, a stronghold of the Marxist party in Thiruvananthapuram district, as CPI(M) and BJP workers clashed. Four BJP workers were injured and their car was damaged.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who is the LDF candidate from the constituency, told reporters that the aim of the protestors was to disrupt the voting procedure and alleged that police had acted as "BJP agent".
Three Marxist workers, including the minister's personal staff, have been taken into custody.
He said the BJP workers had reached Kattayikonam in two cars and allegedly attacked CPI(M) workers including a ward councillor and that he would file a complaint before the Election Commission and the DGP.
Sobha Surendran, the BJP candidate from Kazhakootam constituency, had earlier in the day held a sit-in protest in front of a polling booth in the area.
Minor clashes between CPM and Congress workers were also reported in Chuttipara (Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district) and Anthoor in Taliparamba in Kannur district.
Central forces were deployed in 549 critical location booths and 433 vulnerable polling booths in the state.
However, Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena said the election to 140 assembly seats was "absolutely peaceful, free and fair."
On the allegations of bogus voting raised by some political parties,the CEO said the commission has not received any such reports as of now. But some people might have tried and their numbers may be "very very negligible", he said.
He also thanked the people of Kerala and all officials who cooperated with the commission, especially the web casting team, headed by additional CEO, Sanjay Kaul.
Polling officer misses duty
A polling officer at Thalavady in Kuttanad's Alappuzha district failed to turn up for poll duty on Monday evening following which another official had to be deployed, Election Commission sources said.
Police said they had received a man missing case and on investigation it was found that the official was at his residence itself and had reportedly 'overslept'.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking re-election from Dharmadom in Kannur, expressed confidence that the LDF would be voted back to power and register a 'historic' win.
The BJP account in Nemom, the solitary seat won by the saffron party in the 2016 polls, will be 'closed', he said.
On the polling day also, sparks flew over the Sabarimala issue with the LDF and UDF locking horns.
Vijayan said the devotees of Lord Ayyappa and all other gods will be with the LDF, while Congress leader, Ramesh Chennithala, opined that bhaktas will not forgive the Left Front, which will face Ayyappa's wrath.
Kerala had witnessed violent protests by activists of BJP and right wing outfits after the LDF government decided to implement the 2018 Supreme court verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, where traditionally women in the menstrual age group of 10-50 are banned from worshipping.
Besides Vijayan, 11 of his cabinet colleagues are among the 957 candidates in the poll arena.
Former Chief minister Oommen Chandy (Puthupally), opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala (Haripad), BJP state president K Surendran, contesting from Koni and Manjeshwar and 'Metroman' E Sreedharan (Palakkad) and nine film and television actors are also in the fray.
Malayalam superstar Mammooty, actors Suresh Gopi, Fahad Fasil, Tovino Thomas, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Dileep were among the early voters.
Kerala Assembly Elections 2016 Results:
LDF - 91
UDF - 47
NDA - 1
OTHERS - 1
In the outgoing Assembly, the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front had 91 seats, while the Congress-led United Democratic Front had 47, and the BJP and P.C. George, whose party is not allied with any of the three fronts, had one each.
The LDF comprises 14 parties, including the Kerala Congress-Mani and the erstwhile Janata Dal-U (now the Loktantrik Janata Dal), which crossed over from the UDF last year.
In the UDF, there are just five parties at present while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance also has five.
The bye-election to the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency, which fell vacant after the resignation of IUML MP Kunhalikutty, was also held simultaneously with the Kerala Assembly polls on April 6. Voters in this constituency in north Kerala district elected their MLA and MP simultaneously. The estimated total poll percentage for bye-election to Malappuram is 74.53%.
Number of voters:
Population - 35,699,443
Total no of voters - 2,74,46,039
Men - 1,32,83,724
Women - 1,41,62,025
Third Gender - 290
Service votes - 57,160
The total number of ballot units used for the general elections, including reserve, is 50,496, control units used were 50,376 and 54,349 VVPAT machines were used.
According to ECI, 186 ballot units, 194 control units and 406 VVPAT machines were found defective during mock poll. During the course of the day, the number of units found defective during actual polls is 150 ballot units, 150 control units, and 747 VVPAT machines, the ECI said in a statement.
Based on the ECI',s guidelines webcasting was done in 20,478 booths in the state which is in line with the 50% mark set by ECI. The ECI had appointed 70 general observers, 40 expenditure observers and 20 police observers along with 2,419 micro observers and 3 special observers in the state this time to help ensure a smooth and transparent election.
Retired IPS officer Deepak Mishra was the police observer in Kerala.
Barring few minor incidents, polling was by and large hugely peaceful in the State with no complaints about the poll process, the election commission said.