More than half of the 8.57 lakh voters cast their votes till 1 p.m. on Tuesday as the Mizoram Assembly elections are in progress in all the 40 constituencies of the hill state under heavy security cover, officials said.

Election officials predict that the turnout is expected to cross 80 per cent after the balloting is completed at 4 p.m.

According to election officials in Aizawl, as the electorate, including first-time voters exercised their franchise in a festive mood there were no reports of any untoward incidents from any of the 11 districts so far.

Mizoram Additional Chief Electoral Officer H Lianzela said, “Voting like previous years has been peaceful, incident-free and there has been no law and order related problem till now”.

“Due to the malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in a few polling stations there was an initial delay in balloting. The officials immediately replaced the EVMs and voting resumed,” an election official said.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga could not cast his vote in his first attempt due to the snag in the EVM in the Ramhlun Venglai Primary School polling station in the Aizawl North II constituency.

He returned home and Zoramthanga, who is also the President of the state’s ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), cast his vote later. He told the media that he is confident that the MNF will again form the government in the hill state for a second consecutive term.

The 79-year-old militant-turned-politician is seeking re-election from the Aizawl East-1 seat for a record seventh time.

Mizoram state Congress President Lalsawta also cast his vote at a polling station in his Aizawl West-III constituency.

Mizoram Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati voted in the Venghlui Government Primary School polling station under Aizawl South-1 constituency.

With favourable weather conditions, men and women wearing traditional attires in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations before the voting began at 7 a.m. and voting will continue in 1,276 polling stations across the mountainous state till 4 p.m. without any break.

Of the 1,276 polling stations, 95 are all-women managed booths and 11 are being manned by differently-abled personnel.

The Election Commission also set up 40 model polling stations in 11 districts with all basic facilities. In all, 8,57,063 voters, including 4,39,026 women, will decide the electoral fate of 174 candidates, including 16 women.

MNF, the state’s main Opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Congress have fielded candidates in 40 seats each, while the Aam Aadmi Party is contesting four seats and 27 independent candidates are also in the fray.

The BJP has fielded candidates in 23 seats with a special focus on linguistic minority inhabited areas, especially where the Reang and Chakma tribal communities are in reasonable numbers in the voters’ list.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer, H. Lianzela, told IANS that 4,832 polling personnel have been engaged to conduct the balloting in 1,276 voting centres across 11 districts.

A senior police officer said that security has been tightened across the state, specially along the International Border with Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Mizoram shares a 510-km porous border with Myanmar and a 318-km border with Bangladesh. At least 3,000 Mizoram Police personnel and 5,400 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces have been deployed for the polls, the official said.