SHILLONG, April 11: Voting is underway in Shillong and Tura Lok Sabha constituencies in Meghalaya on Thursday amid reports of technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs). Nearly 21 per cent of the 19,14,795 electors with 52 per cent women cast their votes in the first two hours, Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said.
"Till 9 a.m., 17.71 per cent voter turnout has been recorded in Shillong parliamentary constituency and 18.32 per cent in Tura seat," he said.
Kharkongor said one Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) was malfunctioning in one polling booth in Pynthorumkhrah Assembly constituency under Shillong parliamentary seat but it was later replaced with a new one.
However, there is no report of any poll-related incident.
A total of 19,14,795 electors with 52 per cent of them women would exercise their franchise.
Among the electors, 11,97,806 voters are in the Shillong constituency that has 36 Assembly seats and 7,16,989 voters in the Tura seat that covers 24 Assembly segments.
There are 4,986 voters with disabilities and the Election Commission has issued over 800 Braille-enabled ballot papers for 797 visually impaired voters across the state.
In Shillong parliamentary constituency, there are six candidates include outgoing MP Vincent H. Pala, who is pitted against Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Sanbor Shullai, United Democratic Party's (UDP) Jemino Mawthoh and three Independents -- T.H.S.Bonney, Romeo Phira Ranee and Samuel Hashah.
"I am confident that majority of the electors of Shillong parliamentary constituency will vote in my favour because of their love for the Congress party," Pala told IANS after casting his vote at Lamyrsiang village in East Jaintia Hills district.
Pala is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term.
However, all eyes will focus on the Tura seat where former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma of the Congress is confident to defeat former Union Minister and National People's Party (NPP) nominee Agatha Kongkal Sangma and Meghalaya's BJP vice-president Rikman G. Momin.
Though, the BJP which is part of NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, the saffron party is fighting the elections on its own.
Both Mawthoh and Agatha Sangma, the sister of the Chief Minister and the youngest daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma, will contest on symbols of their own party's -- the UDP and the NPP, respectively.
Of the total 3,167 polling stations, 417 have been identified as vulnerable and 107 as critical, the poll panel said.
Forty companies of the Central Armed Police Forces, 9,000 Meghalaya Police personnel and Home Guards have been deployed to prevent any untoward incidents.
Around 300 polling stations are being webcast. - IANS