Elections are being held to 280 District Development Council seats in 20 districts

Nearly 52% polling was recorded for the first of the eight-phase elections to the District Development Council (DDC) and by-polls to panchayat positions in Jammu and Kashmir which was held on Saturday. Voting for the J&K DDC elections began at 7 am at various polling booths. It ended at 2 pm.

There are 280 DDC seats in the Union Territory (14 in each of the 20 districts), out of which, voting was conducted for 43 seats. A total of 296 candidates were in the electoral fray in the first phase of DDC elections, including 207 male and 89 female candidates.

While initial reports said over 40 percent voting was recorded till 1 pm, the State Election Commission put the final figure at 51.76 per cent.

According to State Election Commissioner KK Sharma, the highest polling turnout was recorded in Reasi district at 74.62 per cent, followed by Rajouri district at 70.52 per cent. Poonch and Samba districts recorded voting turnout of 68.69 per cent and 68.61 per cent respectively.

The State Election Commission has, meanwhile, prohibited the conduct and publication of any exit poll in any media till 2 pm on December 19, which is the date of polling for the last phase.

Elections to the District Development Councils, which have powers to approve development projects and expenditure, are expected to make decision-making at the grassroot level more people-centric.

This was the first major election in the J&K after the effective abrogation of Article 370 by the central government on August 5, 2019.

State Election Commissioner KK Sharma shared the image of a 99-year-old woman casting her vote at a polling station in Dullangal, Kathua, on Twitter.

He also shared images of voters in other districts.

The Department of Information and Public Relations, Jammu and Kashmir, also shared images of people turning up at polling stations to cast their votes.

Apart from the DDC elections, by-poll elections for vacant panchayat seats were also held today.

The DDC election and the panchayat bypolls are being held in eight phases from November 28 to December 19. The counting of votes will be taken on December 22.