Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor has been largely pleased with the conduct of the Assembly election today.
Briefing a press conference here this evening, Kharkongor clarified that earlier indications of illegal proxy voting were nothing more than human error by polling officials.
The first reported incident came from Nongrim Hills when a voter, Bir Kumar Rai, was prevented from voting as he was told that a ballot in his name had already been cast. An investigation by the District Electoral Officer, SC Sadhu, led to the staff at that polling booth being replaced.
The other incident took place in Mawpat. In both instances, Kharkongor said, the two affected voters will be allowed to cast their vote by the ‘Tender Ballot’ procedure, which was created for such cases.
If there was malafide intent then there would be numerous complaints of irregularities but today has only seen isolated cases.
Kharkongor further urged that these stray incidents not be taken as a commentary on the entire electoral system.
Asked about the number of complaints relating to distribution of money, the CEO said that one official complaint was received in South Shillong by independent candidate Angela Rangad. However, there was no illegal activity found when election authorities investigated but they have taken cognisance of the allegation.
On the seemingly poor turnout in urban areas, Kharkongor said that certain polling stations have not submitted their data and, until they do, it would be too early to ascertain whether there was voter apathy this time.
“I got reports that polling was quite brisk, even in the urban areas. Post-lunch I think things were a bit sluggish. But in the early morning hours I think all urban polling stations also witnessed quite brisk polling,” he said.
On cases of violation of the Model Code of Conduct, Kharkongor said that the main ones were the two clashes in Phulbari, where 31 arrests were made, a clash in West Shillong where two FIRs were registered, and an incident in Umroi.
Additionally, during the ‘silent period’, which began on Saturday at 4pm, there were a few complaints that parties were using social media to campaign, which is against the rules. A few cases saw the Election Commission step in and so that the posts were taken down.
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