Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 2: An estimated 75 per cent of 1.11 crore voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of the keenly fought local body polls in Kerala, which comes ahead of the assembly polls due next year.
The incident free polls were held in seven districts amid tight security with the backward Waynad district registering the highest turnout of 80 per cent and Thiruvananthapuram the lowest at 72 per cent.
The polling percentage in other districts are: Kannur (76.65), Kasaragod (76), Idukki (75), Kozhikode (74.7) and Kollam (74). Polling in the initial stages was slow but picked up as the day progressed.
People braved incessant rain to come out and vote. State Election Commission officials said the election was "incident free" and nothing untoward was reported from any place. Following complaints of faulty EVMs, 17 voting machines were replaced, they said.
The main contest was between Congress-led ruling UDF, CPI(M)-headed LDF and BJP with the Bar bribery case against Finance Minister K M Mani, giving fodder to the opposition to attack the ruling front.
However, unfazed by it, a confident UDF under Chief Minister Oommen Chandy faced the polls riding on the performace of his government, which came to power in 2012 with the slogan of development and care.
It was a hard fought battle as the Assembly election is just months away and the results would indicate the political trend in the state.
Tight security arrangements had been made at polling booths identified as "sensitive" out of the total of 15,096. More than 38,000 security personnel, including women officials were on duty for the smooth conduct of voting in the initial phase.
In the first phase, a total of 31,161 candidates, including 582 in district panchayats, 2844 in block panchayats, 22,788 in village panchayats, 1315 in corporations and 3632 in municipalities are in the fray.
The total electorate in seven districts is 1,11,11,006.
The polls in the remaining seven districts - Alappuzha, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Malappuram and Palakkad - will be held in the second phase on November 5. The counting of votes will be on Nov 7.