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Less polling in Mizoram (11/28/2018) 
Voting in all the eight districts of Mizoram ended peacefully at 4 pm on Wednesday, November 28. However, voters were still in queue inside many of the polling stations after the gates were closed.At 1,179 polling booths across the state, 75% turnout was recorded – 8% less compared to the 2013 assembly elections.“No report of violence has come in. At the end of it, I want to congratulate the people of Mizoram for continuing to be a shining example of democracy to the rest of India. I also thank our team, all the district officials, and a special thanks to the Young Mizo Association (YMA, the state’s largest civil society group) for this partnership,” state chief electoral officer Ashish Kundra told reporters at a press meet in Aizawl after voting ended.He said there were reports of VVPAT machines malfunctioning in some areas, leading to suspension of voting for some time. On being asked how many VVPAT machines were replaced, he said the details were awaited.As many as 6,284 of the total 11,987 voters belonging to the six Bru refugees camps in North Tripura crossed over to the nearest village of Mizoram, Kanhmun, to cast their vote by 3 pm. “It translates to 52%, which, I would say, was a success of the arrangement as just a week ago, when I visited the area, the refugees were demanding a provision to vote in the camps. A few days later, we see so many people taking part in the voting,” Kundra said. The local chapter of the YMA put up a welcome banner for the Bru voters near the bridge demarcating the border between Tripura and Mizoram.Alighting from buses organised by the Tripura office of the ECI along with the government of Tripura, the voters walked about 600 metres to cast their ballots for candidates belonging to Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib districts. The YMA also provided volunteers to the district officials to manage the rush of the voters in the polling booths of Kanhmun, nine of which were specially meant for Bru voters.As many as 7.7 lakh voters were to cast their ballot from 7 am to 4 pm to choose 40 candidates out of a total 209 contestants belonging to eight political parties besides Independents. Among them are 16 women candidates, the highest recorded in the state’s electoral history. About 3.93 lakh voters are women.As per the ECI, 4,800 officials were deployed across the state to man the polling stations. For the first time in an assembly election in Mizoram, 40 companies of security forces were bought to oversee a smooth conduct of the polls. Besides, 24 companies of the Mizoram Armed Police Force and 19 companies of the Mizoram Police (unarmed) were also deployed. Two of the 40 companies of Central forces were deployed in the Kanhmun village.About 179 polling stations were marked ‘sensitive’.Braille-enabled EVMs were used for the first time in Mizoram.The state also saw provisions made for voters to cast their ballots through braille electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the first time besides polling booths meant only for women voters in many areas.Among the first to cast vote at 7 am was former two-time chief minister and president of the Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoramthanga. His party is giving a stiff fight to the ruling Congress. Two-time chief minister and state Congress chief Lal Thanhawla is seeking a third term in these elections. Besides Lal Thanhawla and Zoramthanga, yet another contender for the chief ministerial post is Lalduhoma, president of the Zoram Nationalist Party and the consensus candidate of the six-party regional alliance, Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM).While both the Congress and the MNF have fielded candidates in all the 40 assembly seats, the ZPM is contesting in 35 constituencies. However, all the ZPM candidates are contesting as Independents the ECI disallowed the party’s symbol – hat – to be used as an official symbol. However, the candidates had used the hat as a symbol for Wednesday’s voting as it was free to be used by any contestant. Yet another unrecognised party, Zoram Thar, has also fielded 24 candidates as Independents, taking the total number of Independent candidates to 63, highest ever in an assembly poll in Mizoram.The votes will be counted on December 11.
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