Bhopal: A voter turnout of 60.52 per cent was recorded till 3 pm in Madhya Pradesh, where polling is underway on Friday to elect 230 members of the legislative assembly.
Polling began at 7 am across all 230 constituencies, including 47 reserved seats for Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 35 for Scheduled Caste (SC), in the state. The exercise will continue till 6 pm in all the polling stations except those in Naxalite-affected areas of Balaghat, Mandla and Dindori districts where it ended at 3 pm, an official said.
"Till 3 pm, 60.52 per cent of voters cast their votes in Madhya Pradesh," state Chief Electoral Officer Anupam Rajan told reporters.
The highest voter turnout of 70.27 per cent was recorded in Shajapur district, while the lowest turnout of 45.34 per cent was registered in state capital Bhopal, he said.
Balaghat district's Naxalite-affected Baihar seat recorded a turnout of 61.87 per cent, Lanjhi 74.40 per cent and Paraswada 72.32 per cent, he said.
However, details of the voter turnout at the polling stations in other Naxalite-affected districts are awaited.
There are 2,533 candidates in the fray, including political heavyweights like Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan (of the BJP) and his predecessor and rival Kamal Nath (belonging to the Congress).
Prominent among those who voted early include Chouhan and his family, Nath along with his family, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Prahlad Patel, state BJP president V D Sharma and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
State Home Minister Narottam Mishra, Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Industries Minister Rajvardhan Singh Dattigaon and state CEO Anupam Rajan were also among those who cast their votes in the morning.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and his son and former minister Jaivardhan Singh, who is contesting from Raghogarh, also cast their ballots along with family members. Former minister Ajay Singh exercised his franchise in Churhat constituency.
Women were seen standing in queues for voting at various polling booths in the state including Hoshangabad, an eyewitness said.
A total of 64,626 polling stations have been set up in the state. Among these, 64,523 are main booths and 103 auxiliary polling stations, where the number of voters is more than 1,500, he said.
As many as 5,60,58,521 voters, including 2,87,82,261 males, 2,71,99,586 females and 1,292 third gender persons are eligible to exercise their franchise.
The total number of voters also includes service and overseas electors, the official informed.
A total of 2,533 candidates of political parties and independents 2,280 males, 252 females and a third-gender person are vying to enter the state assembly.