Dehradun: Over 62 per cent polling was recorded in Uttarakhand where voting to 70 assembly seats spread over 13 districts concluded peacefully on Monday, officials said.
The polling percentage in the 2017 assembly elections in the state was 65.56 per cent.
"Polling was held peacefully at the 11,697 polling booths across the state with 62.5 per cent of the electorate casting their votes till the close of polls," Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Saujanya said at a press conference.
Polling came to an end at 6 pm.
Ninety-eight voter verifiable paper audit trails, 30 Central Units and 31 Balloting Units had to be replaced during polling while a total of 203 FIRs were lodged for Model Code of Conduct violations on Monday, she said.
Polled electronic voting machines will be kept in strongrooms after scrutiny by general observers and under CCTV camera surveillance till the day of counting on March 10, the CEO said.
Counting will be carried out under a three-tier security cordon, she said.
Seizures made up to the polling day were worth ? 18.80 crore which is three times more than the seizures worth ? 6.85 crore made in the 2017 assembly polls, Ms Saujanya said.
Long queues of voters were seen outside booths as polling began at 8 am amid strict adherence to Covid protocols, and among them were also centenarians, who despite their age exercised their franchise.
People were allowed to cast their votes only after wearing gloves.
Giving out district-wise polling data till 5 pm, officials said Haridwar district saw the highest voter turnout at 67.58 per cent followed by Uttarkashi with 65.55 per cent, Udham Singh Nagar 65.13, Nainital 63.12, Rudraprayag 60.36 per cent, Chamoli 59 per cent, Bageshwar 57.83 per cent, Champawat 56.97 per cent, Dehradun 52.93 per cent, Tehri 52.66 per cent, Pauri Garhwal 51.93 per cent, Almora 50.65 per cent and Pithoragarh 57.19 per cent.
There were also reports from Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Pithoragarh districts where around 10 villages boycotted the polls due to non-construction of roads.
In the day, CEO Saujanya inspected the model polling booths in Nehru Colony and Hathi Barkala in Dehradun to see if Covid protocols were being followed by voters and officials.
On faulty EVMs at certain polling stations, she had said they were immediately replaced. Uttarakhand Governor Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, former chief ministers Trivendra Singh Rawat and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, AAP's chief ministerial candidate Col (retd) Ajay Kothiyal, state Congress president Ganesh Godiyal, Leader of Opposition in the fourth assembly Pritam Singh, Yoga guru Ramdev, and Niranjani Akhara Mahamandaleshwar Kailashanand Brahmachari were among the first to cast their votes.
Mr Dhami cast his vote in Khatima, Trivendra and Nishank in Dehradun, Kothiyal in Uttarkashi, Ganesh Godiyal in Srinagar and Ramdev at a polling booth in Kankhal in Haridwar.
Talking to reporters after casting his vote, Ramdev appealed to people to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
He also asked them to rise above caste, creed and religious considerations to vote for a strong nation and its interests. On the ongoing hijab controversy, Ramdev said Asaduddin Owaisi was living in the 18th century.
"These are minor things when compared to national interest which is paramount. People should reject political, intellectual and religious terrorism and vote for the country," he said.
This was the fifth assembly polls held in the politically volatile hill state since its creation in 2000. A public holiday was declared by the administration for the single-day polling in the state.
The ruling BJP is seeking a consecutive second term in office in the state while the Congress is trying to make a comeback after being routed at the hands of the BJP in the 2017 assembly polls.
The AAP, which has also thrown its hat in the ring, has declared Kothiyal as its chief ministerial candidate. A total of 81, 72173 voters in the state were eligible to decide the fate of 632 candidates in the fray, including 152 independents, in these elections.
As many as 11,697 polling booths spread over 8,624 locations were set up. For the first time, 101 all-women managed 'Sakhi' polling booths set up in the state to encourage participation of women in the polling process and the response from voters was very enthusiastic, Ms Saujanya said.
Similarly, public response to the six polling booths manned by differently abled persons was also very good, she said.
Prominent candidates whose fate is to be decided in these polls include chief minister Dhami, his cabinet colleagues Satpal Maharaj, Subodh Uniyal, Arvind Pandey, Dhan Singh Rawat and Rekha Arya besides state BJP president Madan Kaushik.
Important candidates' faces from the Congress in the fray include former chief minister Harish Rawat, former minister Yashpal Arya, Godiyal and Pritam Singh.