Voting for the eighth and final phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir recorded about 41% voter turnout till 1 pm. The polling began today early in the morning, in biting cold. The voting, which commenced at 7 am today, was to be held for 369 vacant panch and sarpanch seats across Jammu and Kashmir, state election commissioner KK Sharma told reporters on Friday.

This is happening for the first time since Article 370 was scraped and Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was removed, it is now a Union Territory. “Over 6.30 lakh electors, including 3,03,275 female voters are going to elect their representatives in the 28 DDC constituencies,” officials said. There are 1,703 polling stations — 1,028 in Kashmir division and 675 in Jammu division, they added.

The first seven phases have witnessed high participation in the Jammu division and a few pockets in the Kashmir valley, with more than 50 per cent turnout recorded so far. Against the 13 DDC constituencies of Kashmir division going to polls, there are 83 candidates in fray, including 31 women. In Jammu division, there are 85 candidates in fray for the 15 DDC constituencies in this phase, including 15 women.

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After the polling ends today, the focus will shift to counting of votes and the political parties will have to await the results of the first electoral test of strength on the ground after the scrapping of Article 370. The results for the seats will be out on December 22.

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