According to Election Commission, 6.9 per cent voter turn out was recorded in the first hour itself.

About 74 per cent of 2.43 crore voters exercised their franchise to elect 20 Lok Sabha members from Kerala, where the principal fight is between the ruling Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF.

According to figures put out by the Election Commission shortly before the polling ended, 73.2 per cent of voters turned up in 21,424 polling stations across the state.

But in many places, voters were queuing up after the 6 pm deadline, as a result of which the final polling percentage is expected to be slightly higher.

Polling started on a brisk note under clear weather, which saw half the electorate casting their votes by noon, but slowed down in the afternoon. Some parts of the state, including the capital city and suburbs experienced summer showers in the afternoon.

Polling was by and large peaceful, barring a minor clash between IUML and CPI(M) activists at Thalora in Thaliparamba assembly segment under Kannur Parliamentary constituency, which left three persons injured.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Kerala recorded a turnout of 73.37 per cent which was slightly higher than 71.45 in 2004.

Two persons collapsed and died while standing in the queue and another two while returning home after casting votes in four different constituencies.

Candidates whose fate had been sealed included six Union ministers - Shashi Tharoor, K V Thomas, Kodikunnil Suresh, K C Venugopal and Mullapally Ramachandran (all Congress) and E Ahamed of Indian Union Muslim League.

Prominent LDF candidates in the fray are CPI(M) polit bureau member M A Baby and four sitting MPs of the party - A Sampath, M B Rajesh, P K Biju and P Karunakaran.

Other notable contestants are P C Chacko of Congress, SJD leader M P Veerendrakumar (UDF), former Union minister O Rajagopal (BJP) and film actor Innocent (LDF-independent).

Noted novelist and activist Sarah Joseph and journalist Anita Pratap are prominent AAP contestants.

In 2009, UDF sent 16 MPs, 13 of them from Congress, two from IUML and one from the Kerala Congress (M).

This time Congress has fielded 15 candidates, leaving two seats to IUML and one each to Kerala Congress (M), SJD and RSP, which joined UDF just a month back, snapping its long partnership with the LDF.

In LDF, the CPI(M) fielded 10 party candidates and extended support to five independents, alloting four seats to CPI and one to JD(S).

Besides its persistent failure to oepn electoral account, BJP has put up candidates in all 20 seats along with minor allies and turned the battle into three-cornered contest in Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16.