In Andhra Pradesh, voting for 2,723 panchayats that went to polls in the first phase has ended peacefully at 3.30 pm and counting is underway. Most of the panchayats have recorded nearly 80 per cent polling by 2.30 pm as the final figures are yet to be released. While 81.12 per cent polling was recorded in Vijayawada division till 2.30 pm, Chittoor recorded 79.33 per cent voting. 79.51 per cent polling was reported in Kurnool district and 71.63 per cent in Kadapa division. Anantapur division has recorded 79.35% polling by 2.30 pm. Elections are being held to elect 20,157 ward members in Andhra Pradesh. The state election commission has announced to hold the polls in four phases starting today. The fourth and last phase will be held on February 21. According to the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj department, polls are being held for electing 3,249 sarpanches while 525 have already been elected unopposed. It also informed that no nomination was filed for a village in Nellore district. According to the Election Commission, as many as 7,506 candidates are in the fray for the post of sarpanch, while 43,601 are in the fray for ward members. According to PTI, the elections are being held using ballot paper and without any political party symbols. As many as 29,732 polling stations have been set up, out of which 3,458 have been identified as sensitive and 3,594 hypersensitive. The elections are being held keeping in mind the COVID-19 precautions. Andhra Pradesh Police has deployed Grama Mahila Samrakshana Karyadarshis at the polling stations to ensure transparency and accountability during the Gram Panchayat Elections. The police has earlier said that it is taking proactive and preemptive measures to implement poll strategies, ensuring the smooth process of Gram Panchayat Elections.