A day after polling for the Delhi assembly elections, the spotlight turned on the official voter turnout figure as the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) questioned the Election Commission (EC) over the delay in announcing the final vote count.
Delhi chief electoral officer Ranbir Singh said that the official turnout was 62.59%. That was lower than the record 67.12% turnout reported in assembly elections in 2015, when AAP swept the polls.
“We have been on the job since last night...We began our scrutiny at different schedules for different assembly constituencies. This data comes from polling stations from presiding officers which is then fed in the system assembly constituency wise. This process was going on since morning. This process is over now," Singh told reporters on Sunday evening.
The turnout for this election, while higher than the 60.6% turnout in the Lok Sabha election in Delhi, is a significant decline from the previous two assembly elections, including the 65.63% turnout recorded in 2013.
“We were hopeful of a much higher turnout. Reasons can only be speculative and cannot be established unless a very extensive study is done. Cold weather, polling on a holiday can be a reason but they are purely conjectures," Singh added.
The total female turnout was 62.55% while the male turnout was 62.6%. In terms of assembly constituencies, Ballimaran recorded the highest at 71.6% and Delhi Cantt the lowest at 45.4%.
Earlier in the day, AAP raised concerns over the delay, with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal leading the party’s charge.
“Absolutely shocking. What is EC doing? Why are they not releasing poll turnout figures, several hours after polling?," Kejriwal said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
When asked what the poll body had to say in response to allegations about the delay in announcement, Sandeep Saxena, deputy election commissioner, said the cause was procedural.
“If you see voter turnout app, you will see data currently is at 62.59%. Every data, every voter is taken into account. There is no question of delay, it is a process and as and when it was finalized, we have shared it with you," Saxena said in the joint briefing with Singh. Saxena added that final turnout figures in most assembly elections are announced late afternoon a day after polling.
Prior to the election body’s media briefing, AAP also raised concerns over the movement of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The party raised its concerns saying that Commission had submitted final figures in lesser time for Lok Sabha polls and for other larger states than Delhi.
“It is for the first time that the Election Commission has failed to give a figure of the turnout. This means that there is something wrong happening. We have fought this election on our work. EVMs are being carted around without any security," Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha member and AAP Delhi election in-charge had said.
Responding to questions about the videos shared by Sanjay Singh related to EVMs, Ranbir Singh clarified that an investigation was made and the EVMs in question were reserved ones that were not used for polling.
Exit polls released on late Saturday evening have predicted a clear win for AAP and a setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is trying to wrest power after a gap of nearly two decades. The Congress was at a distant third position.A