Voting for assembly polls in Tamil Nadu , Puducherry and Kerala began on 16 May amid tight security. Polling kicked off at 7AM and will conclude at 6PM.
69.9% and 70% voters turnout has been recorded in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively till 5PM.
The Election commission has made a number of arrangements for the polls.
All non-sensitive booths have been assigned a policeman each to provide security. The Commission has identified 148 polling stations and deployed micro observers and Central forces for additional security. 5,382 officials have been deployed for polling duties while over 6,000 police personnel - including the central para military - forces will provide security for assembly polls.
Meanwhile, the election authorities are also bracing for the possibility of unusual rains during the day. An unseasonal low pressure area has formed over the South West Bay of Bengal and adjoining Sri Lanka, that is set to bring heavy to rather very heavy rainfall from today for two days in many places in the state, especially in southern and coastal districts, as predicted by the Meteorological Department in Chennai.
The Election Commission has made additional efforts in the polling booths to provide cover for the voters to come and exercise their franchise without getting drenched in the possible rain.
Thousands of youth volunteers at grass-root levels are also being pressed into service to help the election authorities to ensure ethical voting and to remind people to come out and exercise their franchise.
New mobile app for poll information
The Election Department has also introduced a mobile application which would give all information regarding today's poll to voters.
The app will provide details of EPIC Cards, polling booth location, constituency-wise voters list and the number of voters in queue at any polling station at a given time.
Voting in Tamil Nadu
233 seats are set to go to polls in Tamil Nadu, with voting in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituency deferred to 23 May over "cash-for-votes" allegations.
In another development, the AIADMK and the DMK have submitted an email response to the showcause notices issued by the Election Commission about the violation of its guidelines on promises of freebies as made in the manifestos of the two parties.
Meanwhile, Income Tax officials have asked the authorities in Tirupur to move the three trucks carrying Rs 570 crore to the chest of the State Bank of India (SBI) in Coimbatore for issuing search warrant under the IT Act for further probe. The sleuths of the tax body along with the team of officials delegated by the Election Commission are probing the transfer of the huge sum from Coimbatore. The bank claimed that it was a normal transfer of cash, though the investigators say original documents to substantiate the transfer were lacking. The three trucks were detained by the Election Commission flying squad near Tirupur.
The Election Commission has introduced many innovative measures during this election in Tamil Nadu, including getting booth slips through the helpline number 1950 in electronic mode, knowing the queue status before polling booths through smart phone apps and getting navigation help through Google maps to locate the booths by the voters by feeding their election identity card number in the apps.
For the first time in the electoral history of India, more than 1.64 crore voters made a pledge last week Tuesday that they would not accept or give money for voting, as money power in election is a big menace in the region.
Voting in Kerala
Kerala will cast its vote today for the 140-seat assembly. The state government has made elaborate arrangements for smooth and peaceful conduct of polls. In all, 2.56 crore electors including 1.33 crore females are expected to cast votes.
A total of 1, 203 candidates including 109 females are in the fray. There are 21,646 polling booths across the state.
Special arrangements have been made for sensitive and vulnerable polling stations, especially in Kannur district.
Voting in Puducherry
30 seats will go to polls in Puducherry. Over 9 lakh voters will exercise their franchise in Puducherry today. Voting will take place in 930 polling stations spread over four regions of the Union Territory.