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Vote Counting In India


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.


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.


  • 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