Ranchi, Nov 22: Around 65 percent voters exercised their franchise on Sunday in the first of the four-phased three-tier rural local bodies' elections in Jharkhand held amid tight security and threats by Maoists, officials said.
Police said around 55,000 security personnel, including those of the paramilitary forces, Jharkhand Armed Police and Indian Reserve Battalion, among others, were deployed for the panchayat polls -- the second since the state was formed in 2000 -- as Maoist guerrillas had put up posters and banners threatening both candidates and voters.
Polling was held at 15,522 polling stations in 78 of the 264 blocks in the state from 7 a.m. till 3 p.m., an official said.
A total of 36,967 candidates - including 19,884 women - are in the fray for 18,472 posts in the zila parishads and panchayat samitis and as heads of panchayats and gram panchayat members.
The posts up for grab include 15,522 in gram panchayats, 1,243 as panchayat heads, 1,552 in panchayat samitis and 155 in zila parishads. There are a total 24 districts in Jharkhand.
As many as 48.88 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase, including 23.48 lakh females.
The four phases of the voting for electing new rural local bodies are scheduled for November 22, November 28, December 5 and December 12.
The results for the first and second phase will be announced on December 6 while the results of the third and fourth phases will be declared on December 13 and December 19, respectively.