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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Despite push to get voters out, turnout 61.7%, down from 2015

The voting figures remained low till about 1 pm, when just 31.69% voters had cast their votes. It picked up pace in the second half. Voting began at 8 am and continued till 6 pm officially. Anyone who entered the polling booth by 6 pm was allowed to vote.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Published: February 9, 2020 4:15:44 am
Voters wait outside a polling station at a government school Saturday. Express Photo by Amit Mehra

Around 61.71% voters turned out to vote in the Delhi Assembly elections, as per figures released by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) at 11 pm Saturday. The final outcome, the CEO said, would only have “fractional changes”. This is significantly lower than 2015 when the turnout was 67.12%.

However, it surpassed the figures of last year’s Lok Sabha elections, when 60.60% voters had come to the polling booths. The voting figures remained low till about 1 pm, when just 31.69% voters had cast their votes. It picked up pace in the second half. Voting began at 8 am and continued till 6 pm officially. Anyone who entered the polling booth by 6 pm was allowed to vote.

The CEO office had made multiple attempts through radio jingles, advertisements on Delhi Metro and DTC buses, cultural programmes, among other things, to encourage citizens to vote, though the effort does not seem to have yielded the desired result.


Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh said many reasons could be attributed to the relatively lower percentage, but maintained that the voter turnout was good. “For a metropolitan city, voting percentage of over 60% is pretty good. Also, we surpassed figures of the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

“Many factors can be responsible for the lower figures. It depends on the voters’ political interest. It can also be that elections were held on a Saturday, and some families would have gone out for the weekend on a holiday. We also have a large number of people who have died or shifted but Form 70 was not filled to remove names from the list. That could also be a factor,” Singh said.

According to data until 3 pm from the districts, North East had the highest polling percentage at 50.75%. Whereas the lowest (42.07%) was recorded in New Delhi district, from where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is contesting. The final district-wise figures will be released Sunday.

At a press conference after the polls, Singh said the election process had gone off “peacefully”. For the first time, poll staff were made to stay overnight at the polling booth to ensure that polling stations were in place in time. “We saw less than one per cent replacement of VVPAT machines, which is significantly lower than in the Lok Sabha elections last year (almost 6%). I attribute this to the overnight stay of staff, and it gave them enough time to get comfortable with the arrangement,” he said.

There were a total of 1.47 crore voters this time.

Another first this time was the postal ballot facility issued to voters aged over 80 and persons with disabilities. “Of the 488 PWD voters whose forms we found valid, 429 ended up voting. Similarly, of the 2,429 octogenarian voters, 2,257 cast their votes. This is a significant achievement for us, otherwise these votes would have been lost,” Singh said.

There were a total of 1.47 crore voters this time, voting for 672 candidates in total. Matiala had the highest number of voters at 4.32 lakh, while Chandni Chowk with 1.25 lakh voters had the lowest number.

Minority-dominated seats recorded among the highest polling percentage, as per estimated voter turnout figures on the EC app. Seelampur, which saw many anti-CAA protests, showed an estimated voter turnout of 71.4% at around 11 pm Saturday. Mustafabad, which had seen a BJP victory in 2015 after a split in Muslim votes, saw an estimated voting figure of 70.55%. Seemapuri and Matia Mahal also saw estimated voter turnouts of 68.08% and 68.36% respectively.
Gokalpuri is the only non-minority dominated constituency which was among the seats with the highest voter percentage, at 69.73%.

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