The high-voltage campaign ahead of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation did not translate into votes on election day. After final scrutiny and tallying, officials announced late Tuesday night a final turnout of 46.6 per cent. In 2016, the final turnout was 45.71 per cent, while in 2009, it was 42.04 per cent.
Polling on Tuesday started slow with only 3.96 per cent of votes cast between 7 am and 9 am. It increased to 8.9 per cent by 11 am, and to 18.20 per cent at 1 pm. By 4 pm, only 22.06 lakh voters had exercised their franchise. This was only 29.76 per cent of the total voters. Till 5 pm, according to the state election commission, the total voter turnout was 36.73 per cent. With only one hour left until closing, it was feared the 2020 GHMC election would witness the lowest turnout. The SEC did not announce the final voter turnout till midnight.
GHMC elections: Repolling in one division, no exit polls
In old Malakpet, casting of votes was stopped and re-polling ordered after the party symbol of a CPI candidate was incorrectly printed on the ballot paper as that of CPM. The State Election Commission, upon receiving a complaint from the candidate, ordered repolling in all 69 polling booths of Ward-26 on Thursday. The counting of votes is scheduled for Friday and the final results are expected to be announced by that evening.
Subsequently, the commission prohibited broadcasting and telecasting of exit polls till 6 pm Wednesday.
‘Those who don’t vote should be penalised’
Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar Tursday said those who failed to exercise their franchise needed to be penalised by denial of government benefits, and those who participated in the polling process should be given incentives.
In a statement, Sajjanar said rights without responsibility cannot be sought. “A person who has not been responsible enough to step out of the comforts of his home to vote at least once in five years has neither a right to seek welfare schemes from the government nor the right to seek development,” he said in angst.
According to him, the benefits enjoyed by citizens should be linked to their vote. Such a low voter turnout defeats the concept of democracy, he said, adding there was a need to strengthen the most important foundation of democracy.
He opinioned a strategy should be devised by the Election Commissions to increase voter turnout in all elections, whether central, state or local bodies. “On the day of the election, citizens’ motto must be ‘vote first, everything next’,” he said.
Sajjanar was not the only one to lament the low voter turnout. Several people on social media expressed their disappointment, and called the electoral process “a waste of resources” as people did not seem to take up voting seriously.
‘Techies should be given postal ballot option’
Sundeep Kumar Makthala, who heads the Telangana Information Technology Association, maintained that 80 per cent of techies in the city were unable to vote due to their ‘work from home’ policy, among other reasons.
According to him, around 5.82 lakh techies are employed in Hyderabad’s IT sector. He said only about 25 per cent were from Hyderabad, and a majority are now working from their hometowns due to Covid-19 restrictions. “To address the issue of low voter turnout, techies should be given the option of casting their vote online or through a postal ballot,” he said.
Sundeep Kumar said that to address the issue of low turnout in polling, techies should be given the option of casting their vote online or through a postal ballot which will ensure a higher turnout of voters.
A total of 74.67 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise. Of the total voters, 38.89 lakh are men and 35.77 lakh are women. 678 persons are enrolled in the ‘others’ category.
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