Amid terror threats and boycott calls by separatist groups and the two main regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polling for the first phase of municipal elections in 422 of the 1,145 wards begun on Monday morning. Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place by the state authorities and the election commission, to ensure peaceful polls . Also, all candidates have been provided either cluster security in hotels or individually in the Valley. The polling, began start at 7 AM, will culminate at 4 PM later today. According to the Election Commission, a total of 1283 candidates will be contesting in the 422 municipal wards today. This time a large numbers of independents candidates are also in fray. This municipal election is also witnessing two significant firsts. In a major development, in these municipal polls, first-time electronic voting machines are being used, in accordance with the rules that have been amended in 2016. In another first, Election commission is also providing voting by the migrants by means of postal ballots. Since the migrants continue to be enrolled in the respective assembly constituencies from which the municipal committees or panchayat’s would derive the rolls, therefore the facility will be provided for them to vote. The counting of votes will be done on October 20. Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had also announced that the Centre would provide a one-month extra salary to all those government employees who will be on poll duty.