India sets record for huge voter turnout

General election registered a voter turnout of 66.38 percent, with 551 million voters casting their ballots.

A record 551 million voters cast their ballots in India’s parliamentary election, which saw a turnout of 66.38 percent, India’s Election Commission has said.

The number of voters going to the polls in the world’s biggest election rose by 32.11 percent, shattering the previous record of 417 million set five years ago, Election Commission director general Akshay Rout told a press conference soon after the end of the final phase of voting on Monday.

“This is the highest ever turnout in India’s national election history. These numbers may still go up marginally because of postal ballots and other factors,” Rout said in New Delhi.

The latest turnout rate beat the previous record of 64.01 set in 1984 and was a major jump from the last general election in 2009 when 58.19 percent of the electorate voted.

Alcohol seizures 

About 814 million people had been eligible to vote in the five-week parliamentary elections.

The last phase of elections took place in the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. The election commission stated that the voter turnout was 79 percent in West Bengal, 55 percent in Uttar Pradesh, and 54 percent in Bihar.

The commission also announced massive seizures of alcohol and cash which had been allegedly offered as an inducement to voters.

“We seized more than 313 crore rupees (about $52m) in cash during the election campaign. Besides cash, we also seized 22.5 million litres of liquor,” PK Dash, who leads the expenditure monitoring effort at the commission said.

The commission also revealed that it was investigating 3,553 allegations of “paid news” over complaints that journalists had accepted cash or other favours in return for positive coverage for particular candidates.

The final results are due on May 16.

Source: News Agencies