Bye-elections to 18 Assembly seats were held along with the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu on Thursday. Bye-polls to four more Assembly seats will be held on May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.

These are the first elections in the state after the deaths of former chief ministers M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. For the first time, voting machines with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail are being used in all the polling booths, reported NDTV.

The bye-elections will decide the fate of the ruling All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam that currently has a thin majority in the 234-seat Assembly.

The AIADMK government needs at least 118 seats in the House. Its current strength is 108 after three MLAs turned independents and three others switched side to support TTV Dhinakaran, who formed the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam after breaking away from the AIADMK. Dhinakaran won the bye-polls to the RK Nagar seat in Chennai, the constituency of the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, in 2017.

The DMK has 97 MLAs at present. It hopes to cash in on the anti-incumbency sentiments in the state to bag the majority of the seats in the bye-elections.

“As DMK president, I urge all voters to come and vote so as to bring about a change in the government,” MK Stalin said after casting his vote on Thursday, reported The Hindu. “All of you should vote. I hope people are not influenced by money being distributed by some parties.”

He also accused the Election Commission of “functioning like an ally of the ruling governments in the Centre and the state”.