Election Commission of India. Nov 1, 2019. (File Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Oct 28 : The Covid-19 pandemic could not affect voters' enthusiasm in the first phase of polls in Bihar as the state registered 52.24 per cent turnout till 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the Election Commission of India said here.

Mentioning that the turnout was more than "previous assembly elections as well as Lok Sabha elections", Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said the first phase of elections concluded "very peacefully" with a few "stray incidents".

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said a total of 52.24 per cent turnout was registered by 5 p.m. after the polling at 31,371 polling stations in 71 Assembly segments in 16 districts of Bihar, including 12 Left Wing Extremist (LWE) districts. The polling began at 7 a.m.

As the polling took place at different times depending upon the area, the turnout could be more as polling at some places was on till 6 p.m.

The elections gathered momentum in the afternoon as the voting started at a sluggish pace due to technical glitches at some of the polling booths.

Violent incidents were reported in some parts of Bihar including in Kaimur district where two groups comprising more than 50 people attacked each other.

They were dispersed by para military force personnel. The situation is now under control. Tekari is another place apart from Ara where an altercation between supporters of two alliances was reported.

The Election Commission had established 31,380 polling booths in 16 districts. There are 1,066 candidates are testing their luck in the first phase.

In all, 41,689 ballot units, 31,371 control units and 31,371 VVPATs were deployed in the elections.

Out of these, the replacement rate has been 0.18 per cent for ballot units, 0.26 per cent for control units and 0.53 per cent for VVPATs as per a report at 10 am, the ECI said.

In the first phase, 1,066 candidates, including 114 women are in the fray.

However, the ECI claimed that the EVM problem was solved shortly after the fault was detected, voters have to wait in queues for over an hour and some even returned home without casting votes. Due to the technical snags, the functioning of over 75 EVMs or VVPATs in Munger, Arwal, Gaya and Nawada districts of Bihar got affected.

Voters in Gaya, Jahanabad, Aurangabad, Jamui, Bhabhua, Sasaram, Baka, and Kaimur also complained of technical and other errors in EVMs.

Due to this, polling started late by 30 minutes to 2 hours at several places.

In Munger, technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines or EVMS were reported in polling booths 165 and 231. The polling agents at these booths claimed that one EVM had the name of RJD candidate but the party poll symbol was missing.

Besides, similar glitches were reported at polling booths in Bihiya village in Bhojpur district, booth number 245 in Rohtas district, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machine at booth number 26.

Elections are to be held in three phases for the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar. The second phase of voting for 94 seats will be on November 3 and for the third phase of 78 seats will be on November 7. Counting will take place on November 10.

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