Voting for bypolls to Balasore Sadar and Tirtol assembly constituencies in Odisha started briskly at 7 am on Tuesday.
The voter turnout was over 10% till 9 am.
Officials in the state’s Chief Electoral Office said by 9 am, around 12.11% of the total 2.37 lakh voters of the Balasore Sadar assembly constituency and 7.58% of 2.30 lakh electorates in the Tirtol assembly constituency had cast their votes through electronic voting machines (EVMs).
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has increased the number of polling booths to over 700 from 463 to restrict the number of voters to 1,000 in each polling station in a bid to comply with social distancing norms because of the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Each voter is being given one glove which he/she will put on his/her right hand before casting a vote. A voter will perform all polling-related works like signing on the form and pressing the EVM button using the same hand.
Around 3,500 polling personnel, 800 Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers and an equal number of volunteers have been engaged for poll duty.
All booths have been sanitised.
Polling personnel has been provided with Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) kit such as mask, face shield, sanitiser, glove, etc.
An ASHA worker has been deployed at a polling booth to ensure social distancing norms and thermal screening of voters.
Any voter, who is running a fever or any other Covid-19-related symptom, will be segregated and will be allowed to vote in the last hour of the polling.
Elections to Balasore Sadar and Tirtol were necessitated following the death of the sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) lawmakers, Madan Mohan Dutta and Bishnu Das, respectively.
Both the parties have chosen the sons of the deceased legislators as their party candidates to garner sympathy votes.
Though the results of the two by-polls would not impact the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Odisha, the BJP’s failure in retaining the Balasore Sadar seat would be seen as a setback.
The opposition party had won the seat after 19 years in 2019 assembly polls.
The BJD had deployed over 70 leaders, including 35 lawmakers, for a high-pitch campaign to wrest the seat from the BJP.
Altogether, 90 platoons of Odisha Police personnel, 250 officials and six companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed to hold the two by-polls in a free, fair and peaceful manner.