Poll officials expect 80 percent turnout in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Following a huge public campaign by the Election Commission to attract more voters to the polling booths, a top election official expects that there would be record voting in Kerala polls on Monday and the turnout expected to touch 80 percent. Speaking to the media here on Sunday, chief electoral officer E.K. Majhi said in the past elections in Kerala, the average turnout was hovering in the range of 75 percent. "This time we had lot of time with us to spread the message of the need to cast votes to the general public. Every district we ran campaigns for this and we feel this time it would be an all time high voter turnout and is expected to touch 80 percent," he said. A total of 1,203 contestants, including 109 women, are in the fray. Majhi said as per the latest figures, the state has 2,60,19,284 voters comprising of 1,25,10,589 male, 1,35,08,693 female and two voters belonging to the third gender. In all there would be 21,498 regular polling booths and 148 auxiliary polling booths, of which there are 1,233 categorised as critical and including 119 booths that are in Maoist-influenced areas. A record 1,11,897 polling officials and more than 52,000 personnel from the Kerala Police besides around 100 companies of central forces, 2,000 officials from the excise department and another 2,027 home guards will ensure that the poll passes off peacefully. Kannur district that is considered a Communist Party of India-Marxist stronghold and has seen numerous incidents of poll-related violence in the past has 1,042 critical booths and hence has maximum deployment of central forces. "Webcasting is being done in all the critical booths besides there would be static cameras in operation where there is a connectivity problem. We arrived in the number of critical booths based on previous election related incidents," said Majhi. With the meteorological office predicting moderate to heavy rains for Monday, it however remains to be seen how enthusiastic voters will be.