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Friday, July 12, 2013 2:50:26 PM (IST)  

Bengal polls: Maoist heartland sees 86 percent turnout

Kolkata, July 12 (IANS): With voting in many booths continuing till Thursday midnight, the first phase of the West Bengal panchayat polls witnessed an average voter turnout of 86.5 percent, an official said here Friday.

"Bankura registered around 86 percent, Purulia around 87 percent and West Midnapore witnessed 86 percent voter turnout in the first phase of the (panchayat) polls Thursday," State Election Commission Secretary Tapas Roy said.

At 5 p.m., the scheduled time for closure, voting process could be completed only in about 65 percent of the booths with an average turnout of around 63 percent.

"Voting in many booths spread across the three districts continued well past 10 p.m. and in some places till midnight," Roy added.

With people having to wait for hours to cast their franchise, many of them wished that electronic voting machines had been used. But with a voter required to cast three different votes for the three-tier panchayat system, the SEC has said EVMs were not feasible.

The next phases of polls are slated for July 15, 19, 22 and 25. Counting will take place July 29.

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