As voting for the 2021 Kerala Assembly election came to a close at 7 pm on Tuesday, the state recorded a voter turnout of 74.02%, as a total of 2.74 crore voters exercised their franchise. This is marginally lower than the previous Assembly election in 2016, which saw an overall voter turnout of 77.35%. Incidentally, in the 1982 Assembly Election, Kerala had recorded a voter turnout of 73.56%. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, scorching heat and heavy rains in some parts of Kerala, voters managed to turn up in droves.
The massive exercise following COVID-19 health protocol involving over two lakh polling officers began at 7 am and the last hour from 6 pm to 7 pm was set aside for COVID-19 patients and those under isolation. According to the Election Commission, as per the preliminary assessment till 6.55 pm on Tuesday, 73.69% were male voters, 73.48% were female voters and 37.37% were transgender voters. Kozhikode district recorded the highest voter turnout of 78.14%. The lowest voter turnout was recorded in the Pathanamthitta district, at 66.94%.
On Tuesday, the voting ended at 6 pm. This year, however, polling was allowed for another one hour to allow COVID-19 patients and those under observation for the illness to cast their votes. The voting progressed in a peaceful manner, barring a few stray incidents of violence, candidates being denied entry into polling booths and fake votes.
In 2016, the overall voter turnout of women, excluding postal ballots, was 75.97%; men, excluding postal ballots, was 78.14 %. The total postal ballots received and counted in the state were 1,13,067.
According to experts, the significantly higher number of polling booths set up this time in Kerala could have aided a good voter turnout. According to the ECI website, there were 40,771 polling stations spread out across 140 constituencies in Kerala this election. This was an 89.65% increase in the stations, compared to 2016, which had 21,498 polling stations. The number of polling stations was increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each booth was allowed a maximum of 1,000 voters, as opposed to the previous 1,500 voters per booth ratio.
As per the revised electoral rolls of the Election Commission, there are 2,66,40,800 general Electors in the state, 56,759 service voters, 90,709 overseas electors and a total of 2,67,88,268 voters.
In 2016, the strength of the electorate, including both general and service electors, was 2,61,06,649, with an elector population ratio of 75.91.
“This year there are 957 contesting candidates this time, including independents. Out of this, 851 are male, 105 are female and one is a transgender candidate,” an official from the election commission had told TNM.
The ECI had arranged for 52,000 Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) Ballot Units and Control Units each for the state this election. Apart from this, 56,000 VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) were made available for additional verification to voters. VVPATs provide feedback to voters in the form of a slip with information on who they voted for, in a ballot-less voting system.
With input from PTI