The Election Commission of India has laid out an elaborate procedure in counting centers in constituencies across the country.

Counting for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, which took place across seven phases in a mammoth exercise, will commence on Thursday, May 23. The Election Commission of India has laid out an elaborate procedure in counting centers in constituencies across the country.

Here’s the step-by-step process on counting day:

  1. Randomisation of counting supervisors and assistants for deployment will start at 5 a.m.
  2. Counting will begin at 8 a.m. under the supervision of Returning Officers.
  3. Each table in the counting hall will have a counting supervisor and agents picked by candidates or their election agents
  4. EVMs will be inspected in the presence of authorised officials before vote counting.
  5. Counting will be done by supervisor/assistant. Postal ballot papers will be counted simultaneously.
  6. After each round of counting, supervisor will sign it along with the counting agents or candidates. The Returning Officer will countersign. It will then be announced.
  7. The entire process will be video-graphed
  8. This will be followed by the mandatory VVPAT verification. As directed by Supreme Court, counting of VVPAT slips will be done for five random EVMs in each Assembly segment.
  9. In case of mismatch between counting of slips and EVM results, recounting of slips of the particular VVPAT will be done and then election symbols of slips will be checked.
  10. If results don’t tally after implementing the set process, the VVPAT slip count will prevail.

What are VVPAT machines?

When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT. The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate. It allows the voter to verify his/her choice.  After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard. VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.

One vs five

Earlier, under the ECI guideline 16.6, only the VVPAT slips from one EVM in every Assembly segment/constituency was subjected to physical verification. The Supreme Court, in response to a plea, decreed that verification be increased to five EVMs in each Assembly segment of a Parliamentary Constituency.

The ECI had said that a 50% random physical verification of VVPATs, which is what the Opposition wanted, would delay Lok Sabha poll results of 2019 by six whole days.

Three-level check

The ECI has said its undertook a three-level check on EVM-VVPATs prior to elections.

“Each and every EVM and VVPAT is checked once by slip verification during the first level check. Thereafter, 5% of the EVMs are selected at random and subjected to higher scrutiny through a mock poll, along with slip verification of 1,200 votes for 1%, 1000 votes for 2% and 500 votes for 2% percent of the EVMs,” ECI had earlier told SC in an affidavit.

The checks are done in the presence of the representatives of political parties and candidates.

EVMs and VVPATs are subjected to a second mock poll along with verification of slips during the setting of candidates on the EVMs in the presence of candidates or their representatives.

A third mock poll is undertaken with slips verification of at least 50 votes on EVMs and VVPATs on the day of election in the presence of polling agents.

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