The 16th Tamil Nadu Assembly elections for 234 seats on Tuesday went off peacefully with no untoward incident reported across the State. But the voter turnout at 71.79 per cent (till 7 pm; could be revised on Wednesday) was the lowest in the last three elections as voters preferred to stay at home due to hot weather and Coronavirus.

The 2016 elections saw 74.81 per cent turnout and in 2011 it was 78.01 per cent. In neighbouring Puducherry, the turnout in this election was 78.03 per cent.

Lowest in Chennai

Like the previous elections, this time too voting in Chennai was the lowest at 59.4 per cent, and Kallakurichi reported the highest at 78 per cent, according to Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo. The voting on Tuesday started at 7 am on a dull note, with the first two hours witnessing only 13.80 per cent. However, voting picked up and at 12 noon it increased to 26.29 per cent. By 5pm it had increased to 63.65 per cent and finally ended at 71.79 per cent by 7 pm. All top leaders, including Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami; DMK leader MK Stalin; Makkal Needhi Maiyam’s Kamal Haasan, and actor Rajinikanth cast their votes early.

A total of 3,998 candidates – 3,585 men, 411 women and two belonging to the third gender – were in the fray.

Of the total voters, 3.18 crore are women, 3.08 men and over 7,200 persons from the third gender.

The Election Commission of India had increased the number of polling stations in the State to 88,937 from 68,324.

Nearly 4.17 lakh personnel were on polling duty, and police and non-police forces deployed were at around 1.58 lakh across the State. Soon after the polling ended, EVMs and VVPATs were shifted to 76 counting centres across the State.

The State witnessed a five-cornered battle with the AIADMK-led alliance with Edappadi K Palaniswami as its Chief Ministerial face seeking a renewed mandate. The DMK-led alliance, led by MK Stalin, is making a strong pitch to overthrow the AIADMK.

There are also three small-time parties – TTV Dhinakaran-led AMMK (in alliance with DMDK and AIMIM); Makkal Needhi Maiam led by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan; and Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi – in the fray.

All Covid-19 protocols, including temperature checking and providing gloves to every voter in the polling booths, were followed.