Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission has made all preparation for smooth and error-free counting of votes sealed in electronic voting machines (EVMs), May 23.
Addressing a press conference here, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar said counting of votes for 146 Assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha will be done at 63 centres across the state.
“With due procedure, the counting will start at these centres at 8 am. As per EC’s guidelines, a hall will have 15 tables–seven for counting of votes of Lok Sabha seats and seven for Assembly seats while the other central table will be there for candidates/ his agents and presiding officer,” Kumar said.
As Odisha witnessed simultaneous elections, the CEO had requested the EC to increase the number of tables for counting of votes in some centres where more tables can be accommodated, he said, adding, “The EC has allowed us to put up additional 411 tables in 22 districts to speed up counting.”
Three officials including a counting supervisor (gazette officer), a counting assistant and a micro observer (central government employee or Central PSU employee) will be appointed for each table in a bid to ensure free and fair counting. Around 6,700 persons have been deployed for the counting in 152 halls, the CEO said.
“As per our estimation, a minimum of 19 rounds of counting will be done at Sambalpur Assembly constituency while maximum 49 rounds will be conducted at Patnagarh Assembly segment,” he pointed out.
He said while 31, 326 postal ballots were counted in 2014 general elections this time around nearly 1 lakh postal ballots have been received. The control unit (EVM) counting, however, will start
half-an-hour after the postal ballot counting.
In 2019, the EC has waived the norm of stopping the penultimate EVM counting if the postal ballot counting is not completed, informed Kumar.
While the postal ballot for an Assembly constituency (AC) will be counted in the table of RO of the concerned AC, the postal ballots for Lok Sabha seats will be counted in the office of Returning Officer (RO) of the concerned PC.
Moreover, EC has issued 43, 357 ETPB (Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots) to service voters. The Returning Officers (RO) are mandated to scan QR codes to consider ETPB for counting. Sufficient numbers of QR scanners have been deployed to complete the process smoothly.
Asked if there is a possibility of non-deletion of mock votes exercised before the start of regular polling, the CEO said, “I have conveyed about the inadvertent errors to the ECI and am waiting for further directions. In such cases, however, it could be that the VVPAT slips will be counted to eliminate the error.”
At last, the counting of five VVPAT machines in each Assembly and Parliamentary constituency will be done on a random basis, he stated.
The CEO has cautioned all polling agents not to bring any electronic gadgets to the counting hall as they are not permitted by ECI. Only RO and AROs are the exceptions. But they have to deposit their mobile phones at the communication centres. Anyone can know about the results by logging into www.results.eci.gov.in
Arrangements of CCTVs, air conditions, videography and deployment of security personnel have been made at the counting centres for smooth completion of the process, he added.