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Polls Open In Groundbreaking Saudi Elections

Citizens of Saudi Arabia are voting in the country's first elections in which women are allowed to vote and to seek office.

Of some 6,917 candidates in the December 12 elections, 979 are women.

Men and women will be casting their ballots in single-sex polling stations under the country's strict gender-segregation policies.

Because of such rules, female candidates were not allowed to meet with male voters during the election campaign.

The elections will select members of 284 local councils with responsibility for such issues as street maintenance, garbage collection, and order in public parks.

Only some 130,000 women have registered to vote, compared to about 1.3 million men.

The country held its first, male-only elections in 2005 and repeated the practice in 2011.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP