There are 27,920 gram panchayats in Maharashtra.
Voting began at 7:30 am and will continue till 5:30 pm except in four tehsils in Gadchiroli, a Naxal-hit district, and Gondia district.
In these four tehsils, the voting will end at 3 pm.
Maharashtra State Election Commissioner UPS Madan on Thursday said that there are 20,000-odd seats where members have already been elected unopposed.
At least 14 Thane district villages have boycotted the gram panchayat elections to press for their demand to be a part of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
With 14 villages boycotting the elections, five gram panchayats in the district will not go to polls on Friday, the official said.
The State Election Commission (SEC) had on Wednesday announced cancellation of poll process in Umrane and Khondamali gram panchayats, in Nashik and Nandurbar districts respectively, after it received evidence of public auctioning of the posts of sarpanch and members of the local governing bodies.
The SEC has allowed those suffering from coronavirus infection or those who are in quarantine to cast their vote half-an-hour before the polling ends.
All the polling centres and material/equipment were sanitised in view of the pandemic, the commission said.
The gram panchayats are considered the third tier of governance. Elections for them are not held on party lines, using party symbols. Candidates are allotted election symbols from a list of free symbols.
The gram panchayat polls are being held more than a month after the ruling MVAs victory in the graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies in the Legislative Council elections that took place late last year.
The MVA, which consists of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, had won four out of six seats on offer, while two others were bagged by an Independent and the opposition BJP.
The districts and the district-wise number of gram panchayats where polling is being held are as follows: Thane (158), Palghar (3), Raigad (88), Ratnagiri (479), Sindhudurg (70), Nashik (620), Dhule (218), Jalgaon (783), Ahmednagar (767), Nandurbar (86), Pune (748), Solapur (658), Satara (879), Sangli (152), Kolhapur (433), Aurangabad (618), Beed (129), Nanded (1,015), Osmanabad (428), Parbhani (566), Jalna (475), Latur (408), Hingoli (495), Amravati (553), Akola (225), Yavatmal (980), Washim (152), Buldhana (527), Nagpur (130), Wardha (50), Chandrapur (629), Bhandara (148), Gondia (189) and Gadchiroli (362).
Counting of votes will be held on January 18.