UP voter turnout 60 percent, may rise: Poll panel (Lead)

February 8th, 2012 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) At least 60 percent voter turnout was recorded in Uttar Pradesh’s first phase of assembly polls in 55 constituencies Wednesday and the figure is expected to rise, the Election Commission said here.

“Initial estimate is 60 percent. It may go up to 62-64 percent,” Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla told reporters here.

“The polling was peaceful.”

This is much higher than the 46.6 percent recorded in the first round in 2007, despite heavy rains affecting voter turnout Wednesday morning, said EC officials.

The polling Wednesday was spread across 10 districts and involved 1.71 crore eligible voters.

EC officials said the voter turnout was encouraging in the state where polling has not been high in the past and is expected to further improve in the remaining six phases.

“This is the result of our effort to update voter list and rope in the young voters in the state,” said Shukla, adding that the “turnout has been difficult in UP historically.”

He said the EC reached out to schools and colleges to rope in young voters and launched an extensive drive to educate the electorate in the state.

“We added two crore new voters in the summary revisions as compared to 2007. The state has 12.5 crore voters. We hope a significant turnaround in polling percentages this election,” said Shukla.

He said the commission had launched a 24X7 helpline to educate the voters, especially youths, and started an SMS service which provided the polling station address, ID number and other details relevant to a voter on his or her mobile phone.

Though there was a ban on political parties ferrying voters, the electorate were allowed to drive their vehicles up to the polling booth to facilitate balloting, said EC officials.

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