A voter turnout of 79.64 percent has been recorded in the elections to the 29-member Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) in Meghalaya on Monday.

The final polling percentage this year is much higher compared to the 2015 council elections, which stood at 71 percent.

Amid tight security, polling began at 7 am and continued beyond the scheduled deadline of 5 pm in some areas to enable those in the queues to exercise their franchise. Voting was held with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

No untoward incident was reported in any of the five western Garo hills districts as people came out in large numbers to cast their votes, defying boycott call by a group of social organisations.

A total of 182 candidates, including 75 independents, are in the fray. The ruling National People’s Party (NPP) and the opposition Congress have fielded their candidates in all the 29 seats, while the BJP is contesting in 21 and the UDP in 8.

The Meghalaya government had, in October last year, postponed the elections to the GHADC in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The council is currently under the administrator’s rule after the tenure of the National People’s Party-led executive committee expired on October 18.

Votes will be counted on April 15.