New Delhi: More than 54 percent students on Friday exercised their franchise in the students' union polls of Jawaharlal Nehru University, where women's safety and hostel facilities surfaced as the key issues.
"The poll process went peacefully. The voter turnout was 54.58 percent," said the Election Committee of JNU.
The voting, which began on a slow note in the first half of the day, gained momentum post lunch as students queued up to cast their ballot.
"Polling for the first half of the day began at 9.30 AM and was extended by half an hour from the scheduled 1.00 PM. After a lunch break, it resumed at 2.30 PM and ended around 5.30 PM," Dileep Kumar Maurya, Chairperson of Election Committee, said.
The counting of votes will begin amid security tonight after 9 PM and results are expected to come on September 15.
While seven candidates from major students' organisations are in the fray for the coveted presidential post in the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU), five candidates each for the posts of Vice-President, General Secretary and Joint Secretary are contesting the polls.
In a first, the Election Committee had introduced None of the Above (NOTA) option for the polling this time. However, many students felt that the option was toothless as the NOTA votes cannot call for a re-election.
Digital voting, which was also introduced for the first time was widely used by visually impaired students. The computers had an interactive HTML portal which recorded students' choices.
Mohib Anwar and Pragya Devda, the two representatives of the Visually Challenged Students' Forum in JNU, assisted the visually impaired students as they cast their ballot.
Women's safety, action against those accused in sexual assault and better hostel facilities are among the key issues raised by the candidates of various students' organisations.
This came against the backdrop of two JNUSU office bearers stepping down from their posts following a sexual harassment complaint against them with the university's gender sensitisation wing last month.
Democratic Students' Federation (DSF), which has forged an alliance with left-wing All India Students Federation (AISF) and other parties under the umbrella 'Left Progressive Front' (LPF) to counter ABVP and AISA, said they were confident of winning the presidential post.
"The poll process went peacefully and we are confident of winning the Presidential post," said V Lenin Kumar, DSF leader and former JNUSU president.
LPF has fielded Rahila Perween, the only female candidate for the coveted presidential post.
After a wipe-out in the last year's elections, the Students' Federation of India (SFI) is hoping to make a comeback this time.
In the "Left-dominated" JNU campus, the membership of right-wing ABVP has also seen "a significant rise" this year.
"Our cadre base has increased from last year's 500 members to 800 this year," ABVP president in JNU Vinay Kant said.
The organisation has tried to appeal to minority students by fielding Md. Jahidul Dewan for the Vice-President's post.
Last year, ultra-left All India Students Association (AISA) had swept JNUSU elections, winning all top four positions.