68% polling was recorded in the first phase of assembly polls for 89 Assembly seats in Gujarat even as reports serious malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines dominated the poll process.
Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said that the final figure was likely to go up since people were still standing in queues outside polling centres after close of voting at 5 pm.
Even as the polling passed off peacefully, opposition leaders raised apprehensions about electronic voting machine (EVM) tampering, a charge rejected by the EC.
Responding to a series of questions on reports of EVM tampering, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Jain said one complaint filed by a Congress candidate in Porbandar, Arjun Modhwadia, regarding his mobile phone getting connected to an EVM through ‘bluetooth’ was found to be incorrect.
Jain said experts found that the cell phone was actually connected to the bluetooth of a polling agent’s mobile.
State Election Commission officials said there were reports of technical glitches in EVMs in Surat and some other centres, but the polling process resumed after the machines were replaced. Quoting officials, DNA reported that of the total 26,865 EVMs and 24,689 Control Units (CUs) and VVPATs allotted, 164 EVMs, 714 VVPATs and 225 CUs were found to be dysfunctional.
Hindustan Times and Times Now too quoted officials but their reports said that 0.75% EVMs replaced on account of snags, while 1.90% of the 24,689 VVPAT machines were replaced.
PTI report said that 181 ballot units (0.6 per cent of the total), 223 control units (0.55 per cent of the total) and 714 paper trail machines (1.75 per cent of the total) were replaced during polling, they said.
As the polling process began at 8 AM, people stepped out of their houses braving the winter chill and queued up to cast votes at the polling stations.
With the marriage season on, brides and grooms, clad in wedding finery, came to polling booths along with their relatives to exercise their franchise. Many such voters were seen in Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Gondal and Surat. A 115-year-old woman from Upleta town of Rajkot, Aajiben Chandravadia, also voted, reports said.
The second phase of polling in 93 seats will be held on December 14 while the counting of votes is scheduled on December 18.