Bhubaneswar: All arrangements are ready for smooth and transparent counting of votes cast in the December 5 Padampur by-poll in Odisha, state Chief Electoral Office (CEO) S K Lohani said.
Tight security is in place for the counting at RMC yard near the Padampur sub-collector’s office and trained officials have been engaged for the work, he said.
The counting of postal votes will start at 8 am and that in 319 polling booths of the constituency from 8.30 AM. The entire process is likely to be completed by evening, he said.
Lohani said that a three-tier security arrangement is in place and the central paramilitary forces will man the innermost layer. The state armed police will be in place in the second layer and the state police in the outermost one.
Three companies of the central force will be engaged for security during the vote counting process, he said.
On counting, he said it will be conducted in 14 tables in 23 rounds considering that over 81 per cent votes have been cast in the by-poll.
The returning officer has so far received 296 postal votes. He will receive them till 7.59 am before commencement of vote counting.
Of the 2.57 lakh voters, 2,09,309 eligible electors had exercised their franchise during the voting held on December 5.
The CEO said VVPATs of five randomly selected booths will be taken up for cross-verification after completion of the voting process as per the EC guidelines.
The EC has deputed an observer to oversee the counting process and there will be one counting supervisor and one assistant at each table. In addition, one micro-observer of the central government will be deputed who will report to the observer, Lohani said.
The CEO also said that proper arrangements have been made for the dissemination of round-wise results. The counting agents nominated by candidates will also be present to observe the counting. Candidates or their election agents can also be present inside the counting hall, he said.
The result of the high-stake Padampur by-poll is anxiously awaited as a neck-to-neck fight is expected between ruling BJD candidate Barsha Singh Bariha, the daughter of late Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha and BJP nominee Pradip Purohit, who is also its Krushak Morcha president.
Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha’s death in October necessitated the by-poll in Padampur.
Congress nominee and three-time MLA Satya Busan Sahu and seven other candidates are in the fray.
Meanwhile, Congress legislator of Jatani constituency Suresh Routray said that the party’s candidate might lose the poll due to excessive expenditure by the BJD and BJP.
Both BJD and BJP are confident of winning the by-poll, the rsult of which is likely to have an impact on state politics as it is considered to be the last before the 2024 general election and the state Assembly.