About 30 per cent votes were cast till noon in the by-elections to two Assembly seats in Meghalaya on Thursday, Chief Election Officer F R Kharkongor said. By about noon, about 35 per cent of the 30,231 voters in South Tura constituency exercised their franchise and over 25 per cent of the 29,685 voters in Ranikor seat cast their votes, he said.
The voting began at 7 am and will end at 5 pm.
Although he is not a voter in South Tura, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who is contesting from the seat, accompanied his mother Soradini K Sangma and sister Agatha K Sangma as they cast their votes, he said.
The largest polling station in South Tura constituency was Matchakolgre with 1,337 voters and the smallest was Leper Colony with 151 voters.
In Ranikor constituency, Rangthong with 817 voters was the largest booth, while Nongbahjynrin-Mawthabah with only 12 voters was the smallest one, Kharkongor said.
The by-elections to the two seats were necessitated following the resignations of former Assembly Speaker and five-time Congress MLA Martin M Danggo, who joined the ruling National People's Party (NPP), and South Tura MLA Agatha K Sangma.
Danggo resigned on June 21, while Sangma quit on July 2.
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Chief Minister Sangma, who is currently a Member of Parliament from Tura, is contesting from South Tura seat to become a member of the state Assembly.
Son of former Lok Sabha Speaker and chief minister Purno Sangma, he became the chief minister on March 6 with the support of the BJP and regional parties.
He is pitted against the Congress candidate Charlotte W Momin and Independents -- John Leslee K Sangma and Chris Kabul A Sangma.
In Ranikor seat in South West Khasi Hills district, NPP's Martin M Danggo will face United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate Pius Marwein, People's Democratic Front (PDF) chairman P N Syiem and Congress candidate Jackiush Sangma.
In the Assembly elections earlier this year, Ranikor had recorded 89.5 per cent voters turn out, while South Tura had recorded 73.59 per cent, an election official said.
Security has been tightened for the by-polls with deployment of four companies of the central armed police force each in both the constituencies, he said.
The Border Security Force (BSF) has been asked to keep extra vigil as Ranikor constituency borders Bangladesh, he said.
Meghalaya by-polls are taking place just a few months before the Lok Sabha elections 2019 which is due to take place in the months of April-May to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.