Voters in queue at a polling station in Meghalaya Credit: EastMojo image

Shillong: By-election to Shella constituency — also one of the first green elections of Meghalaya — saw massive a voter turnout on Monday. At last count, the constituency witnessed 84.56% polling.

By-poll to the constituency was necessitated in the wake of the sudden demise of Speaker and United Democratic Party president Donkupar Roy on July 28 this year.

The by-election saw females outnumbering the males. With more than 29,000 voters from the constituency, 23,782 voted till the last report with males accounting to 11,716 and 12,066 females as is the trend in the state of Meghalaya.

Addressing the media, state chief electoral officer F R Kharkongor said that women voters took part in a very enthusiastic manner. Pink polling stations and green polling stations were set up. Women participation was as high as ever.

As part of green elections — the first such initiative carried out in Shella — the by-poll saw polling stations using local materials like cane and bamboo products. Seed pens were used by polling officials, cloth banners were used in all polling stations.

PwD polling station was also set up for people with disabilities. Poll volunteers who played a significant role in the last elections also contributed immensely in this election according to the chief electoral.

A total of six candidates were in the fray. With 58 polling stations out of which 11 were vulnerable locations. But fortunately, there was no untoward incident reported from anywhere. Kalatek is one polling which is only accessible by boat.

In some polling stations, large queues were seen in the morning like in Hatmajai and Ichamati. Shella by-polls witnessed heavy polling in the early hours.

“The election passed off smoothly it was a peaceful and successful election. A new technology was used called ‘Skylo’ during this election. In partnership with BSNL, Skylo is a technology used by the Indian army and railways. Skylo is a satellite-based technology it is hosted on the Indian Maritime Space Satellite. Whereby even in those shadow areas where there is no connectivity, which means that from the Shella headquarters they could communicate directly with the polling party and messages were exchanged easily. This was done on a narrow band and not a broadband. We could exchange messages with 6 polling stations which were inaccessible and non-motorable. This is one technology that we hope it will help in the conduct of elections later as this was a trial,” said Kharkongor.

“There was only one VVPAT malfunction in the Laitiam polling station. There was no cash seizure but substantial amount of liquor amounting to 823.67 litres, in terms of monetary value it was 1,32,446,” said Kharkongor.

Counting will be held on October 24. The VVPAT will be counted, at random five VVPAT will be chosen and selected for cross-checking and matching as is done in the past , a VVPAT counting booth will be kept. All these arrangements will be reviewed.

The Central Armed Paramilitary Forces will be retained and will be doing strong room duty. Innermost cordon is guarded by the CAPF, the second tier is guarded by the state arm police and the third tier is the state unarmed police.

The voting percentage in the last general election in 2018 was 86.40%. The highest number of voter turnout in the Shella constituency was Wah-U-Tim which was 92.86% and was MeSEB – MCCL had the lowest voter turnout which was 47.37%.

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