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Voting in India: A different perspective

I found this so interesting. A report on elections in India.

(excerpt from) Times of India
Dance of Democracy
India exercises its ballot, amid bullets and blasts
16 Apr 2009, 1800 hrs IST, IANS

NEW DELHI: Round one of India’s Election 2009 ended Thursday with millions queuing up in 17 states and union territories to vote in a new government amid Maoist violence that marred the democratic exercise in several places and left at least 17 dead.

The world’s largest democratic exercise began early at 7 a.m. and ended at most places at 5 pm. A majority of the states reported moderate turnout despite the Maoist attacks on polling centres and security personnel.

Indians voted in 124 constituencies to pick a new 545-seat Lok Sabha in the first step of a four-phased exercise that is widely expected to throw up a split verdict. The Maoist violence affected a dozen constituencies.

About 143 million of India’s 714 million voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first of five rounds in 185,552 polling centres. A total of 1,715 candidates were in the fray, with over 300,000 electronic voting machines used…

But it was a bloody start to the ambitious exercise with Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Maharashtra seeing violence and intimidation as Maoist guerrillas tried to implement their election boycott through the barrel of the gun.

At least 17 people were killed as cadres of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, which seeks to carry out an agrarian-based revolution, targeted polling officials and security personnel across the insurgency hit states…

Reports of gun battles, booths being raided, voters being attacked and electronic voting machines being torched came in from several places in the affected states.

But voters braved it all at the end of the day.

In Andhra Pradesh, once a Maoist bastion, there was 60-65 percent voter turnout, 65 percent in the three parliamentary constituencies of Assam and 60-70 percent in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, also in the northeast. Manipur was lower at 40 to 50 percent…

But all will be told on May 16 when the millions of votes will be counted.

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