Kerala assembly election: What happens at Counting tables?

MK Suresh, M Basheer

Representative image | File photo: K K Santhosh|Mathrubhumi

Thiruvananthapuram: The Election Commission (EC) has arranged more centres and facilities for counting of votes this time considering the Covid situation.

633 counting halls in 114 centres have been arranged in the state. Out of this, Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be counted at 527 halls and postal ballots in 106 halls. It has been directed to use upto 4 halls in each counting centre. During the previous assembly elections, there were only 140 counting halls.

The postal ballots which are more in number will be counted first. So, the initial results will be delayed. Postal ballots will be accepted upto one hour before the counting of votes begin.

7 tables

There will be 7 tables in each counting halls. A counting supervisor, assistant and counting agents will be present at each table. It has been directed to use upto two tables for counting postal ballots.

There were 14 tables during the counting of Lok Sabha election in 2019. This time, seven halls are allowed in order to ensure social distancing due to Covid situation. The number of polling booths were increased by 89 percent and the number of EVMs also increased according to this.

What happens at tables?

The returning officer opens the strong room where the EVMs are kept, in the presence of candidates by 7.30 am. Charge officer receives the voting machines and will safely carry it to the counting halls.

In the counting hall, each table has a supervisor, assistant and micro observer. The returning officer will be present at the main hall and assistant returning officers in the other halls. There will be a space of 150 square feet around one counting table. Outside the barricades, the counting agents of each candidate can be seated maintaining social distance.

Counting supervisor will break the seal of the voting machine. The supervisor presses the result button under the supervision of officials and agents and record the details of the votes as displayed on the screen. The assistant and observer will also record the details.

Once the counting is complete, the observer and the returning officer will approve the same. Details will be filed in the EC website Encore.

21 more booths

The counting centres have arranged counting of votes from 21 booths in the first round of counting which is different from the earlier method of counting. Last time, votes from 14 booths were counted in the first round.

50496 voting machines

50,496 voting machines including reserved machines and control units and 54,349 VVPAT machines were used for this Assembly polls.

Counting of postal votes

AROs will be in charge of each table for counting of postal votes. Counting officials and agents will be present which will be similar to counting of EVMs. One table will be counting 500 postal ballots. Invalid postal ballots will be discarded. Service votes will be examined with number using QR code. Only after counting of postal ballots is completed, the last round of EVMs will be counted.

4,54,237 postal votes given back

A total of 5,84,238 postal ballots were distributed in the state and 4,54,237 ballots were returned on April 28.

Covid rules

  • District election officers will be the nodal officers and will be in charge to see if Covid protocols are followed at the counting centres. The nodal health officers will help them
  • Candidates or agents will be allowed to enter the counting centres only if they have taken 2 doses of the vaccine or if they possess a Covid negative certificate.
  • No crowding of people outside the counting centres

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