Voting has started for 3,019 panchayats in 117 taluks (subdivisions in districts) of Karnataka in the first phase of gram panchayat elections on Tuesday with COVID-19 protocols in place.
A total of 1.17 lakh candidates are contesting across 43,238 seats, half of which are reserved for women, poll officials said.
Voting began at 7 am and will go on till 5 pm in over 23,000 booths.
A total of 4,377 candidates have been elected unopposed already, the officials said.
People who are COVID-19 positive or come under primary or secondary contacts of infected people can vote in the last hour of polling, officials said.
Elaborate security and COVID related precautionary measures have been taken for the voting, they said, adding that wearing masks and maintaining social distance is mandatory, also hand sanitisers will be available in polling booths.
The number of voters in each booth has been reduced from 1,500 to 1,000, also Anganwadi, ASHA workers and Health Department officials have been roped in for poll duty.
Though these polls don't take place on party symbols, all political parties have put in efforts to ensure that the candidate supported by them wins, so as to have their hold on grassroot level politics, which may prove advantageous for them in taluk or zilla panchayat and even assembly polls whenever they take place.
The second phase of polls is scheduled on December 27, and the counting for both phases will take place on December 30.