Himachal Pradesh recorded a voter turnout of 65.92 per cent till 5 pm on Saturday, the Election Commission said, citing provisional polling figures for the state where the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are locked in an aggressive fight.
Voting began at 8 am on a slow note but picked up as the day progressed and the sun warmed the winter chill. The assembly election is a crucial test for the BJP which is hoping to beat precedent and return to power while the Congress has urged voters to go by tradition of voting out the incumbent.
Only around five per cent polling was recorded in the first hour, while till 11 am, it was 19.98 per cent. It notched up to 37.19 per cent by 1 pm and 55.65 per cent till 3 pm.
Till 5 pm, a 65.92 per cent turnout was recorded, the Election Commission (EC) said.
The highest polling of 72.35 per cent was recorded in Sirmour district followed by 68.48 per cent in Solan and 67.67 per cent in Una and 67.5 per cent in Lahaul and Spiti.
The high-altitude district of Lahaul and Spiti had recorded 21.95 per cent, the lowest, till 1 pm, but polling was brisk as the sun came out.
Shillai recorded the highest 77 per cent turnout while Sarkaghat recorded the lowest 55.40 per cent, among the 68 assembly constituencies in the hill state, the poll panel said.
Seraj constituency in Mandi district from where Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is contesting and Sujanpur recorded 74 per cent polling, according to the provisional figures. Among the other constituencies, Anni recorded polling of 63.65 per cent, Arki 66 per cent, Churah 60.83 per cent and Dalhousie 63 per cent.
Chief Minister Thakur voted in Mandi along with his wife and daughters after offering prayers at a local temple, while Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Pratibha Singh and her son Vikramaditya Singh voted in Rampur.
Earlier in the day, the Congress leader along with her son paid obeisance at the Shani temple in Shimla.
Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son, and Union Minister Anurag Thakur voted in Hamirpur along with family members. Former Union minister Anand Sharma voted in Shimla while CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri and his family voted in Haroli, from where he is contesting.
BJP president J P Nadda voted along with family members in Bilaspur, while former chief minister Shanta Kumar also cast his vote.