Over 73 per cent of the 7.68 lakh Mizoram voters on Wednesday exercised their franchise to elect a new Assembly, a top election official said.
"Little over 73 per cent of the 7,68,181 voters cast their votes by the end of schedule balloting hour at 4 p.m. However, the percentage might go up to 77-78 per cent as a large number of voters are still in queues at many polling stations in different parts of the state," Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundra told the media.
Long queues of colourful motley crowd were seen outside many polling booths across districts well before the voting began at 7 a.m.
"Conducive situation and favourable climate helped the electorate exercise their franchise smoothly," Kundra said, adding that around 25 EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and VVPAT (Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) devices malfunctioned, but no untoward incident has been reported so far.
The CEO said that several voters aged above 100 cast their votes with the help of their family members at different polling stations.
Sharing borders with Myanmar (510 km) and Bangladesh (318 km), mountainous Mizoram is the last Congress-ruled state of the eight northeastern states.
Chief Minister and state Congress head Lal Thanhawla, and former Chief Minister and MNF President Zoramthanga cast their votes in Aizawl.
The ruling Congress led by the incumbent Chief Minister and state party chief Lal Thanhawla is aiming for a third consecutive term despite a stiff challenge from the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) headed by Zoramthanga.
Both Congress and MNF have fielded candidates in all the 40 Assembly constituencies.
The Congress has been in power, except for 10 years, ever since Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1987. The MNF, a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), ruled during those 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also trying to make its presence felt as it has fielded 39 candidates -- its highest ever.
Many regional parties, including Meghalaya's ruling National People's Party (NPP), have fielded candidates for most of the 40 seats.
Women voters have once again outnumbered the men in Mizoram. There are 3,93,685 women and 3,74,496 men and they will decide the fate of 209 candidates, 15 of whom are women.
The Election Commission has set up 15 special polling stations at Kanhmun, a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, to facilitate voting by Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in Tripura for the past 21 years.
"The BSF (Border Security Force) and Assam Rifles troopers have been asked to further tighten the security along Mizoram's borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar," a Mizoram Election Department official earlier said.
Votes will be counted on December 11, along with four other poll-bound states -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.
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