Aizawl, Nov 7: More than 75 per cent of the 8.57 lakh voters cast their votes on Tuesday in the elections to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly and the balloting was held under a heavy security cover, officials said.
Election officials, who are expecting the turnout to cross the 80 per cent mark after reports from all districts were received, said that due to technical snags in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) many polling stations delayed voting and extended polling time till late evening.
In Mizoram, over 80 per cent voters cast their votes in most of the elections, with 80.82 per cent of the total of 6,90,860 voters having exercised their franchise in the 2013 Assembly polls and 80.03 per cent of the 7,74,757 voters having cast their votes in the 2018 elections.
According to election officials in Aizawl, as the electorate, including first-time voters exercised their franchise in a festive mood there were no reports of any untoward incidents from any of the 11 districts so far.
Mizoram Additional Chief Electoral Officer H Lianzela said, “Like previous years voting was held in an absolutely peaceful manner, incident-free and there was no law and order related issue during the polling”.
Another election official said that due to the malfunctioning of EVM in a few polling stations there was an initial delay in balloting. However, the officials immediately replaced the EVMs and voting resumed.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga could not cast his vote in his first attempt in the morning due to the snag in the EVM in the Ramhlun Venglai Primary School polling station in the Aizawl North II constituency. He returned home and Zoramthanga, who is also the President of the state's ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), cast his vote later.
He told the media that he is confident that the MNF, which is in power since 2018, would again form the government in the hill state for a second consecutive term.
The 79-year-old militant leader-turned-politician is seeking re-election from the Aizawl East-1 seat for a record seventh time.
Mizoram state Congress President Lalsawta also cast his vote at a polling station in his Aizawl West-III constituency.
Mizoram Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati voted in the Venghlui Government Primary School polling station under Aizawl South-1 constituency.
With favourable weather conditions, men and women wearing traditional attires in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations before the voting began at 7 a.m. and the voting continued in 1,276 polling stations across the mountainous state till 4 p.m. without any break.
Of the 1,276 polling stations, 95 are all-women managed booths and 11 are being manned by differently-abled personnel. The Election Commission also set up 40 model polling stations in 11 districts with all basic facilities.
In all, 8,57,063 voters, including 4,39,026 women, were eligible to decide the electoral fate of 174 candidates, including 16 women.
MNF, the state's main Opposition Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Congress have fielded candidates in 40 seats each, while the Aam Aadmi Party is contesting four seats and 27 independent candidates are also in the fray.
The BJP has fielded candidates in 23 seats with a special focus on linguistic minority inhabited areas, especially where the Reang and Chakma tribal communities are in reasonable numbers in the voters' list.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer, H. Lianzela, told IANS that 4,832 polling personnel have been engaged to conduct the balloting in 1,276 voting centres across 11 districts.
A senior police officer said that security has been tightened across the state, especially along the International Border with Bangladesh (318-km) and Myanmar (510-km).
Around 3,000 Mizoram Police personnel and 5,400 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces have been deployed for the polls, the official said.
Since the announcement of the election schedule of Mizoram on October 9, all political parties, church bodies, NGOs, including Young Mizo Associations and civil society organisations have been demanding that the counting date be reschedule.
Dozens of letters and memoranda were sent to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to reschedule the vote counting date of December 3 saying that Sundays are sacred for Christians and worship services are held in all towns and villages.
A 65-year-old social activist Lalbiakthanga on Tuesday staged a hunger strike throughout the day against the ECI's "silence" over the demand for rescheduling the day of the counting of votes.
He did not cast his vote to register the protest. Lalbiakthanga, who has also written to the EC urging to reschedule the counting days, chose the polling day to stage his protest with a hunger strike, as he sat in front of 'Vanapa Hall', a government-owned auditorium in the heart of Aizawl city.
Lalbiakthanga, is popularly known as the "walkathon man" as he had travelled on foot hundreds of kilometres several times to raise awareness on various social issues.