Bigger VVPAT count may delay LS results by 4 to 5 hours in Telangana

The results for 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana State are likely to be delayed by four to five hours on May 23. 

Published: 18th May 2019 09:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2019 09:50 AM   |  A+A-

CEO Rajat Kumar, during an exclusive interview with Express at the Secretariat, in Hyderabad on Friday | S Senbagapandiyan

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The results for 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana State are likely to be delayed by four to five hours on May 23. This is due to the need to count five instead of one Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in every Assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.  

The VVPAT system, which is being used for the first time in a general election, enables Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to record each vote by generating a slip. The counting of VVPATs, postal ballots, votes in the EVMs and the scanning of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots System (ETPBS), will make the process lengthy. 

On an average, counting of votes using one VVPAT takes about an hour. As counting of VVPATS is done one after the other, for five VVPATS it will take as many hours.

If things go as per laid down procedures, results for 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana would start trickling in from late afternoon or evening on May 23, Chief Electoral Officer of Telangana Rajat Kumar told Express here on Friday.

“Apart from VVPATs counting, there are possibilities of results getting delayed due to various factors which I cannot comment. In such a case, the  results might go late into the night or next day. There is a scope for agents raising disputes which require quasi judicial interpretation by the ECI,” Rajat Kumar said. Stating that necessary arrangements are being made for counting of  votes, he said the staff and officials have been given the required training.    

THE long wait is coming to an end as the verdict of the people of Telangana, as to who should represent them in the Lok Sabha, would be known in a few days, on May 23. The candidates as well as the leaders of  mainstream political parties have been jittery all these days, wondering what result the EVMs would throw up.

The Election Commission  (EC) has made elaborate arrangements for the counting of votes. Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar explains to Express how the process would take place and the reason for the delay in announcement of results by about five hours. Excerpts from the interview follows...

“If any mismatch is found between the votes on the EVMs and the VVPAT slips, the latter would be taken as the final count. This is as per the Election Commission guidelines,” said the CEO. The final result sheet will also be amended as per the VVPAT paper slips count. Notably, the whole counting process will be filmed by the authorities.

“As per Rule 56D (4) (b) of the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, if there is any discrepancy between EVM count and paper slip count, the paper slip count will prevail. Hence, if there is discrepancy between the count of votes displayed on the control unit and the count of printed paper slips in respect of that polling station, the result sheet will be amended as per the printed-paper slips count,” the EC manual states.

“After the introduction of VVPATs in year 2013, not even a single mismatch was found between VVPATs and EVMs. Every voter who voted during polls had seen and checked the VVPAT slips. If they had any doubts, they could have protested then and there, but no such incident took place anywhere during the recent polls,” Rajat Kumar said. VVPAT counting rooms will be located in the counting centre. These rooms will be surrounded by a wire mesh, which will keep away unauthorised people from accessing the paper slips. The selection of the five EVMs in every Assembly Constituency will be done by a draw of lots in the presence of all the candidates.The counting will start at 8 am, as per schedule, in 82 halls located in 35 areas across 18 districts in Telangana.

35 COUNTING CENTRES  

As many as 35 counting centres have been set up across the State, ahead of the D-day. For the counting of votes, around 1,841 tables were assembled with 15 tables each in 110 Assembly segments, 19 tables in seven segments of Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency and 29 tables in two segments of Medchal and LB Nagar in Malkajgiri constituency   

20K COUNTING STAFF  

For 35 counting centres, as many as 20,000 officials and staff including supporting staff would be utilised. There will be one supervisor, one counting assistant and one micro-observer for each table. Similarly, for each Assembly segment, one additional counting assistant, two additional micro-observers, two office subordinates, two labourers and one DEO have been deployed. Apart from this, the police force would arrange for police bandobust at counting centres, the CEO said

Counting to start at 8 am

The counting will start at 8 am, as per schedule, in 82 halls located in 35 counting centres across 18 districts in Telangana. As many as 61 ECI Observers will oversee the entire process. In case of the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat, where 185 candidates are in fray, an additional 20 minutes would be required per round. The display of votes in EVMs for each candidate will be for 7 seconds, even if a candidate gets zero votes.

“As there are so many candidates, an additional 1,200 to 1,300 seconds (20 minutes) would be required,” Rajat Kumar said. He added that the Nizamabad RO had requested for 18 tables instead of 14. “If approved, the number of rounds could be reduced,” the CEO went on to add

Trends and Results of Suvidha App

Rajat Kumar informed that round-wise results would be available on results.eci.gov.in website. He stated that the activities of ROs and AROs will be in four simplified stages. The ROs and AROs are only authorised to update election results on Suvidha App. First, they have to enter the data carefully. If there would be any correction, then they could change accordingly.

Display boards must be arranged at all counting centres, as per the rules specified by the ECI. The Returning Officials only will announce the results. They have to update the roundwise data for every five minutes on the websites. Polling trends will be made available as usual. “Now that we are going to do additional 4 rounds of counting, this would delay the results by four hours.”

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