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Friday, July 19, 2024

2024 Lok Sabha Elections: What Happens Inside A Counting Centre

A total of 8,360 candidates are in the fray in the 2024 general elections

After a total of 642 million voters exercised their franchise over the last one-and-a-half months in the seven-phase polls, the counting began on Tuesday at 8 AM. The Lok Sabha elections are a mammoth exercise where 8,360 candidates are in the fray across 543 parliamentary seats. As the nation awaits the results, here’s a look at what exactly happens inside a counting centre and who all are allowed inside.

Role of Returning Officer

After the successful completion of the voting process, the counting starts under the supervision of the Returning Officer (RO) for each seat. Usually, the Election Commission nominates the RO, who is often the District Magistrate.

The votes are counted in the presence of contestants and their election agents. 

Besides the ROs, the Assistant Returning Officers have also been empowered to oversee the process, especially on occasions when an RO is responsible for more than one seat. The RO appoints the counting officials, who do the actual counting of votes. The appointment is done based on the anticipated number of postal ballots and counting tables.

On every counting table, there is a supervisor — usually a gazetted officer or equivalent — accompanied by a counting assistant, counting staff from the Group D employees, and a micro observer, who holds responsibility for the sanctity of the counting process, The Indian Express reported.

The officials are picked from a database with the help of software developed centrally by the state’s Chief Electoral Officer.

Who is allowed inside the counting centres?

Among some of the people allowed inside the counting centre are supervisors, assistants, micro-observers, individuals and observers authorities by the electoral body and government employees on election duty as well as the candidates. The law permits the contestants to appoint as many counting agents as the counting tables.

It is to be noted that “public servants” do not include police officers and government ministers here. None of them is allowed to carry a mobile phone inside the counting centre. 

A counting hall typically can have 14 counting tables in maximum, besides the RO’s table.

Counting of votes

In total, there are two types of votes — EVM and the ones cast through postal ballots. Both of them are counted separately.

The Chief Election Commissioner on Monday said that the EVM counting starts at 8:30 AM, half an hour later than the counting of postal ballots. 

The strong rooms, where the EVMs are stored after the completion of the voting process, are opened in the presence of the Observer, RO/ARO, as well as the candidates or their election agents.

The entire counting procedure is filmed with date and time stamps.

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