Around 18 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first four hours of polling on Thursday in five Lok Sabha and 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha, election officials said. The electoral fortunes of 279 candidates, including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union minister Jual Oram, will be decided in the second phase of voting.

While Patnaik is in the fray from Hinjili and Bijepur assembly seats, Oram is contesting from the Sundargarh Lok Sabha constituency.

Over 76.93 lakh voters will decide the fate of 279 candidates in Thursday’s polling. Out of the total electorate of 76,93,123, there are 37,47,493 women voters. At least 605 electors belong to the third gender.

An estimated 18 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise during the first four hours of polling till 11 am, and voting is gradually picking up, officials said.

Long queues of voters were seen at polling stations in Aska, Kandhamal, Sundergarh, Bargarh and Bolangir Lok Sabha constituencies, and the 35 assembly segments coming under these areas, as polling commenced at 7 am.

While 20 per cent voter turnout was recorded both in Aska and Bargarh, polling was 18 per cent in Sundaragarh, 16 per cent in Kandhamal and 15 per cent in Bolangir till 11 am, said an official.

Glitches in EVMs caused delay in start of polling in around 50 booths in different places under Aska, Sundargarh, Kandhamal, Sundergarh and Bolangir constituencies, the officials said.

“Polling is in progress in a peaceful and smooth manner. There has been no untoward incident anywhere, though glitches in EVMs delayed the start of voting in some places.

The snags were immediately corrected,” a poll official said.

Voting is being held a day after Maoists gunned down a woman election official, and set ablaze two vehicles and a motor-cycle on way to booths on Wednesday, police said.

Both the incidents occurred at separate places in the Naxal-hit Kandhamal district, where the red rebels have asked people to boycott elections. Authorities have taken prompt steps to ensure smooth polling in the area.

Prominent among the early voters include BJD Rajya Sabha member and former Odisha minister Prasanna Acharya, and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, who voted in Bargarh and Sundargarh, respectively, where they are also in the fray for Lok Sabha polls.

Repolling is also being held in two booths in Malkangiri (ST) and Berhampur assembly constituencies, following reports of glitches in EVMs during the first phase of polling on April 11.

Meanwhile, a report from Aska parliamentary constituency said a 95-year-old man, identified as Natabar Behera, collapsed while standing in the queue at a booth in Kansamari village under Sanakhemundi assembly segment, police said. The man later died, a police officer said.

Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases.