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Bihar assembly election 2020: Phase 1 ends with 54.26% polling – bihar election

Roughly 54.26% of 21.4 million people voted across 71 seats in the opening phase of the Bihar assembly elections on Wednesday that passed off peacefully, marking the beginning of the first mass election since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the country.

The provisional turnout across 16 districts was 0.49 percentage points lower than that in the same areas in 2015 according to data at 9.30pm, the Election Commission (EC) announced, but added that it was expected to rise. Twelve of the districts are affected by Maoist extremism.

Banka district recorded the highest turnout at 59.57%, followed by Jamui at 57.41%, Gaya 57.05%, Kaimur 56.20%, Sheikhpura 55.96% Lakhisarai 55.44%, Bhagalpur 54.20%, Buxar 54.07%, Jehanabad 53.93% and Arwal 53.85%, according to data shared by Bihar’s chief electoral officer. Munger (47.36%) recorded the lowest turnout.

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“We (EC) were, in a way I would say, were also discouraged as to why elections are being held amid Covid. But you would recall I had said on September 25 (when Bihar poll schedule was announced) that for EC, this poll is a leap of faith and not leap in the dark,” said chief election commissioner Sunil Arora.

Polling began at 7 am and ended at 6 pm. The poll timing was increased by an hour to allow those running high temperature and those tested positive for coronavirus cast their vote in the last hour.

The EC said the functioning of electronic voting machines (EVM) was “very satisfactory”, and that 0.22% of 41,689 ballot units, 0.25% of 31,371 control units and 1.28% of 31,371 paper trail machines were replaced.

In 12 polling stations of Jamui, the poll timing was increased by one hour due to delay in replacing the faulty machines, the EC said. One control unit and at least one ballot unit makes for one EVM. “As many as 159 people were detained as part of preventive measures to ensure fair and free polls,” said Bihar chief electoral officer HR Srinivasa.

Also Read: Generational shift in Bihar’s political arena?

An FIR was registered against Bihar agriculture minister Prem Kumar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the Indian Penal Code and Representation of the People Act for violation of the model code of conduct. The minister, who rode a bicycle to a booth in Gaya to exercise his franchise, wore a mask with the party’s symbol on it.

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