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Stage set for Assembly elections

T. Ramakrishnan


Various options to protect voter identity under consideration

Money distribution restricted to large extent: Chief Electoral Officer




Praveen Kumar

CHENNAI: The stage is set for the 14 {+t} {+h} Assembly elections in the State on Wednesday, amid tight security. Elaborate preparations have been made for about 4.7 crore voters to choose their representatives to 234 constituencies.

With the aim of protecting the identity of voters, the Election Commission is examining various options, including merger of details of votes registered by one control unit with those of others. The Commission is considering them for adoption at the time of counting, Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar said on Tuesday.

He called upon voters of the State to exercise their franchise fearlessly and conscientiously.

As for the strength of forces to be deployed on the day of polling, the CEO said 240 companies of paramilitary forces and nearly one lakh lower-level police officials would be utilised. Each company would have 100 persons.

On complaints of money distribution, the CEO acknowledged that the authorities could not control the practice 100 per cent. They had restricted it to a large extent.

What was overtly done earlier might be going on in a covert manner, he said, adding that “but for our efforts,” it would have been much more rampant.

On Monday and Tuesday, there were reports that money distribution was stepped up in several parts of the State.

A perusal of the age-group composition data on the total strength of voters, as published in the final roll of January 2011, reveals that a little more than one crore voters are in the age group of 18 years to 29 years, accounting for 22 per cent of the voters. Of them, the first-time voters [in the age group of 18 years to 19 years] number approximately 6.7 lakhs; those in the age group of 20 years to 24 years – 40 lakhs; 25-29 age group – 60 lakhs; 30-39 age group – 1.2 crore; 40-49 age group – 1 crore; 50-59 age group – 70 lakhs; 60-69 age group – 45 lakhs; 70-79 age group – 20 lakhs and 80 years and above – 5.5 lakhs.

It may be noted that around 11 lakh voters have been added to the State's electorate after the publication of the final roll. The authorities say details of the age group composition of the recently added voters are not yet available.

Voter turnout

Since 1957, the average turnout of voters in the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu was around 66 per cent. [1957 is taken as the cut-off year in view of the States' re-organisation of 1956].

Except on two occasions, the turnout was more than 60 per cent generally. In 1957 and 2001, the figures of turnout were 46.56 per cent and 59 per cent. The all-time high of 76.57 per cent was recorded in the 1967 elections when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam swept the polls, removing the 20-year-long rule of the Congress. In 2006, the turnout was about 71 per cent.

Asked about his projection of the voter turnout this time, Mr. Kumar pointed to the performance of Assam where approximately 75 per cent of voters had turned up on April 4 and 11. “When Assam can register 75 per cent polling, Tamil Nadu should have a higher turnout,” he said.

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