Karnataka panchayat polls: Voter turnout may touch 80%

Karnataka panchayat polls: Voter turnout may touch 80%

Bengaluru Urban district which has 1.43 lakh registered voters saw a turnout of 76.46%

PPE-clad Covid positive voters exercise their franchise at a polling booth in Kodagu district during the gram panchayat elections on Tuesday. Credit: DH Photo

The first phase of the gram panchayat polls on Tuesday saw voters turning out in large numbers in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the State Election Commission estimating the figure to touch 80%.

Barring technical glitches at some places and issues with the ballot paper at a couple of centres, voting went off peacefully at 3,019 gram panchayats which went to polls, said officials. 

Bengaluru Urban district — which has 1.43 lakh registered voters — saw a turnout of 76.46%. Final numbers are still being tallied, according to officials.

Other districts, too, saw a good turnout. In Madikere, people queued up in front of the polling booths in Kedakal, Madapura, Kumburu, Seventh Hosakote, Guddehosuru and Harangi.

People working outside the district returned to their hometowns to exercise their franchise, with most of the voters turning up along with their families. The district had seen 62.21% turnout by 3 pm.

Octogenarian Bhagirathi Patil (84), who cast her vote at Cherkadi gram panchayat in Udupi district, said she came to vote with her grandchildren as she knew the candidate. Voting is also an attempt to exercise our rights besides making the government realise that we are still alive, she said. 

Some centres were hit by technical glitches. For instance, in Mangaluru, owing to power outages at a government higher primary school in Kuthar and in Amblamogaru in Mangaluru taluk, polling officials were forced to use torch light and burn candles in the early hours to verify the voters' list. The polling process resumed after power was restored.

According to B Basavaraju, State Election Commissioner, the response was encouraging. "We are estimating an 80% voter turnout. We have information from 13 districts as of now and the numbers are still being compiled. In 2015, the turnout was similar," he said. 

Barring two incidents, one in Ballari and another in Kalaburagi, where there was a problem with the symbol on the ballot paper, polls were peacefully conducted, he said.

"The returning officer in a gram panchayat in Ballari made a mistake and the symbol was wrongly printed on the ballot paper. A show cause notice was issued. A similar incident took place in Kalaburagi. There will be repolling in these two panchayats," Basavaraju said.