Shimla: More than 50 per cent votes were cast on Thursday for the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh Assembly amid tight security, an election official said here.

Voters across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before polling started at 8 a.m. despite the cold in the single phase election.

"Despite minor hiccups as Electronic Voting Machines developed snags at some places, there was no report of any delay in starting the poll process," an electoral officer told IANS.

He said nearly 55 per cent of votes were cast till 3 p.m.

A total of 337 candidates, 19 of them women, are in the fray. There are 112 Independent candidates.

The main contest is between the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress has projected incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as its chief ministerial candidate, while Prem Kumar Dhumal is the BJP's. Both are contesting the elections.

Both Singh and Dhumal cast their votes along with family members at their hometowns Rampur and Samirpur, respectively.

A total of 50.25 lakh electorate, including 19 lakh women and 14 transgenders, will decide the fate of the candidates.

Voting began on a dull note, with below five per cent polling in the first hour and by 10 a.m., rose to 13 per cent.

Women turned out in strength in the rural areas.

The Congress and the BJP have fielded candidates on all 68 seats, while the BSP and the CPI-M have fielded 42 and 14 candidates respectively.

The Hikkim polling station in Lahaul-Spiti district, the country's highest polling booth at 14,567 ft, has 194 voters.

The minimum number of voters - six - are at Kaa village in Kinnaur district.

The polling will continue till 5 p.m.

The vote count will be held on December 18 along with Gujarat.