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Vote Counting In India

Context:

Over the past six weeks, 642 million voters have participated in the world’s largest democratic exercise. Now, it’s their turn to be heard through the counting of votes.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Counting of Votes
  2. Postal Ballots and EVM Votes
  3. VVPAT and Recounting
  4. Result Declaration

Counting of Votes

Handbook and Governance
  • Handbook Issued by EC: Guides Returning Officers (ROs) and counting agents on the counting process, highlighting design, operations, and objection protocols.
  • Rule 66A Governance: The counting process follows Rule 66A of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, as amended in 1992.
Responsibilities and Procedures

RO Responsibilities:

  • Typically, the District Magistrate is appointed by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • Must inform candidates or their agents of the counting schedule and location at least one week before polling.
  • Assistant Returning Officers assist where the RO oversees multiple constituencies.
  • Counting officials appointed by the RO conduct the vote counting at various tables.

Appointment of Time and Place:

  • Rule 51 Requirement: RO must appoint the time and place for vote counting at least one week before the poll.
  • The ECI sets a uniform date and time for counting, usually at the RO’s headquarters but possibly outside the constituency.
  • Votes for an Assembly constituency are counted at a single location with each constituency in a separate hall with up to 14 counting tables plus the RO’s table.
Counting Process
  • Scheduled Start: The RO must begin counting strictly at the scheduled time, with the entire process documented in-camera and timestamped.
  • EVM Strong Room Procedures:
    • The room must be opened in the presence of observers, ROs/AROs, and candidates or their agents.
    • Continuous CCTV coverage documents the movement of control units, VVPATs, and relevant documents.
    • Counting staff and others must remain at the Counting Centre until official results are announced.

Postal Ballots and EVM Votes

Postal Ballot Counting:

  • Rule 54A mandates starting with postal ballots.
  • EVM vote counting starts 30 minutes after postal ballots.
  • VVPAT slips are matched with EVM results post counting.

EVM Counting Procedures:

  • Organized on tables arranged in rows and numbered sequentially.
  • Control Unit of each EVM determines poll results for each station.
  • Ballot Units remain in a secure strong room.
  • Candidate-wise results from each control unit are recorded in Form 17C part II, signed by the counting supervisor and candidates/polling agents, and countersigned by the RO before preparing the Final Result Sheet in Form 20.

VVPAT and Recounting

VVPAT Counting:

  • Begins only after all votes from Control Units are counted.
  • Conducted under close supervision in the VVPAT Counting Booth with observers and candidates or their agents present.

Recounting:

  • Usually unnecessary due to the validity of each vote recorded by machines.
  • Rule 63 provisions for recount still apply if required.

Result Declaration

  • Authorization: RO must obtain authorization from the Observer to declare results.
  • NOC Requirement: RO should seek NOC on Form 20 from the Commission, Observer, and the leading candidate before public announcement.

-Source: The Hindu


June 2024
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