"Vote count began from 8am onwards for Belgaum parliamentary seat at Belgaum, Basavakalyan seat in Bidar district and Maski (Scheduled Tribe) seat in Raichur district in the state's northern region amid tight security and under Covid-induced safety guidelines," the official told IANS on phone.
To maintain social distancing, counting is being held in 17 halls in Belgaum and 12 halls each in Basavakalyan and Maski.
"As per the procedure, postal ballots are being counted first in all the 3 seats and votes in EVMs (electronic voting machines) will be counted on 34 tables in Belgaum and 12 tables in each the 2 assembly seats," said the official.
For Belgaum seat, though 8,047 postal ballots for service voters were issued, 964 were received. For Basavakalyan 199 were issued and 49 received, while for Maski, 14 were issued but none was received.
"Postal ballots were also issued to absentee voters, comprising Covid patients, senior citizens above 80 years of age and physically challenged," said the official.
Of 6,435 postal ballots issued for absentee voters in Belgaum, 5,831 were received, while 1,176 were issued in Basavakalyan, 983 were received and 273 were issued in Maski and 246 were received.
Of 18,13,567 electorate in Belgaum, 10,16,025 voted, resulting in 56.02 per cent polling.
Of 2,39,782 electorate in Basavakalyan, 1,47,647 voted, resulting in 61.58 per cent polling.
Of 2,06,429 electorate in Maski, 1,45,458 voted, resulting in 70.40 per cent polling.
In all, 30 candidates, including 10 in Belgaum, 12 in Basavakalyan and 8 in Maski contested. Of them, 26 are men and 4 women.
There are also 5 Independents each in Belgaum and Maski and 4 in Basavakalyan.
The by-elections were held to fill vacancies caused by the death of Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi and BJP member in Belgaum and death of Congress legislator B. Narayan Rao in Basavakalyan and due to the disqualification of Pratapgouda Patil in Maski.
Angadi, a four-time Lok Sabha member from the region, died due to Covid on September 23, 2020 in New Delhi, while Rao also died due to the infection on September 24, 2020 in Bengaluru.
In Belgaum, BJP fielded Mangala, widow of Angadi to retain the seat while Congress fielded Mallamma, widow of Rao to retain Basavakalyan.
Congress fielded its state unit working president and sugar baron Satish Jarkiholi against Mangala.
Satish, 58, is a legislator from the Yemakanmardi assembly seat in the border district of the state.
Satish is also the younger brother of BJP's tainted former state minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, who is embroiled in the sleaze CD that has rocked the state recently.
Patil, who defected to BJP from Congress in November 2019, has re-contested to retain Maski on the lotus symbol.
Though the opposition Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) did not contest in Belgaum and Maski, it fielded Syed Yasrab Ali Quadri in Basavakalyan, while BJP fielded Saharanu Salaga to wrest the seat from Congress.