This is the first major electoral exercise after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic

Voting for the first phase of the Bihar Assembly polls 2020 took place on Wednesday. The COVID-19 pandemic did not have much of an impact on the voter turnout with 53.54% voters exercising their franchise till 6 pm.

The voting figures are expected to increase once the Election Commission of India updates the final figures.

The first phase saw voting for 71 assembly constituencies at over 31,000 polling stations spread over 16 districts. A total of 1,066 candidates were in the fray in this phase with an electorate of over 2.14 crore.

The second and third phases will be held on November 3 and November 7. Results for the elections will be declared on November 10.

The Bihar Assembly elections to 243 seats is the first major electoral exercise after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polling was held under strict COVID-19 preventive protocols, with masks mandatory for all persons entering a polling station, thermal screening, and sanitizers at the entrance of poll booths. Special teams were deployed to collect biomedical waste from the polling stations.

The Election Commission of India had earlier reduced the maximum number of voters at one polling station from the existing 1,500 to 1,000 to ensure social distancing.

Announcing the election schedule on September 25, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had described it as the "biggest election in the world in Covid times".

The focus now shifts to the second phase which will see 94 constituencies in 17 districts going to polls in 42,000 polling stations. During the third phase, 78 assembly constituencies in 15 districts will go to polls in 33,500 polling stations.

Bihar is witnessing a contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the Mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance between the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. The Lok Jantantrik Party (LJP) is contesting on its own.