April 15th, 2009
World's biggest democratic exercise begins
Over 60 pc voter turnout as India goes to polls
As the world's biggest electoral exercise got under way in India, the first phase of the five-phase 2009 Parliamentary elections on April 16 recorded 58-62 percent voter turnout. The staggered general election will end on May 13 while final results will be due on May 16.
Giving preliminary statistics compiled from 15 States and two Union Territories where over 143 million people were eligible to vote in the first round, the Election Commission of India said that the voting percentage ranged from 46 percent in Bihar to 86 in Lakshadweep.
Among the states that witnessed high polling percent were Lakshadweep (86 percent), Nagaland (84 percent), Kerala (73 percent), Manipur (68 percent), Andhra Pradesh (65 percent), Orissa (63 percent) Arunachal Pradesh (62 percent), Meghalaya (65 percent), Assam (62 percent), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (62 percent), Kerala (over 60 percent), Maharashtra (54 percent), Mizoram (52 percent) and Chhatisgarh (51 percent).
The key states will be Uttar Pradesh (80 seats), Maharashtra (48), Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal (42 each), Bihar (40) and Tamil Nadu (39) that between them contribute almost 54 percent of the 543 member Lok Sabha.
About 714 million of India's 1.1 billion people, or more than twice the population of the United States, are eligible to vote in the world's biggest democratic exercise.
- More than 1.1 million electronic voting machines (EVM) will be used in over 830,000 polling stations for the five-phase vote, supervised by over 2.1 million security personnel.
- Hundreds are contesting the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha - from 623 candidates for 48 seats in Maharashtra to 3 for the lone seat in Nagaland.
- More than 1,000 political parties have registered for the election.
- Average voter turnout in the 2004 election was 58 percent, with tiny Nagaland registering the highest turnout of 92 percent.
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