Shimla: Over 33,000 none of the above (NOTA) votes were polled in Himachal Pradesh, where the ruling BJP swept the Lok Sabha elections winning all four seats in the state. The saffron party won Mandi, Shimla, Hamirpur and Kangra with record margins of about four lakh votes in each of the constituencies. As many as 33,008 voters chose the NOTA option. In this way, 0.87 percent voters opted for NOTA out of the total 38,01, 793 votes polled in the state on May 19, an election official said. Besides, 8,208 (0.22 per cent) votes were rejected for the four Lok Sabha seats of the hill-state, he added. The highest 11,327 voters chose NOTA in Kangra, followed by 8,357 in Shimla, 8,026 in Hamirpur and 5,298 in Mandi, the official said. He said a total of 29,032 voters (0.9 per cent) had opted for NOTA in the 2014 parliamentary elections. The highest 3,322 votes were rejected in Hamirpur, followed by 2,567 in Kangra, 1,777 in Mandi and 1,542 in Shimla, the official said. He said as electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used for general voters, there was no chance to get votes rejected. But, the votes of the soldiers, generally known as service voters, and those of the poll staff, who use ballot papers to exercise their franchise, may be rejected if not properly cast, the official added. Of the total 53,30,154 registered voters in the four constituencies, 68,028 (1.27 percent) are service voters. The highest service voters 24,245 are in the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat, followed by 21,836 in Kangra, 13,474 in Mandi and 8,473 in Shimla, a state electoral officer said. The HP Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Harbans Lal Dhiman told PTI that the ballot papers had been electronically transmitted to record offices/units of service voters on May 3 itself with envelopes to ensure their voting. "Subsequently, the service votes were required to reach the concerned Returning Officer before the start of the counting," he added.
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