NEW DELHI: The stage is set for revelation. Counting of votes for the 16th Lok Sabha will begin in 989 counting centres across the country at 8 am on Friday, under the supervision of 1,163 observers, to decide the fate of 8,251 candidates.
According to the Election Commission, half-an-hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting of an estimated 550 million votes from the EVMs will begin to decide the 543 Lok Sabha members. The first trend is likely to emerge at 9 am. By noon, a final picture could emerge on who would be the major players in the 16th Lok Sabha.
The ‘ballot unit’ is switched on in the presence of senior poll officials and counting agents of candidates and the result command keyed in to get results per machine. The Election Commission has also instructed returning officers to give print out of each counting round and of each EVM to candidates’ agents.
During the polling, 13 lakh EVMs were used at 9,19,452 polling stations across the country. In order to maintain utmost transparency during counting, the Election Commission has deployed micro observers at each counting table. About 5,50,000 security personnel will be deployed for the counting process. A three-tier cordoning system will be set up at all counting premises to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons inside the counting zones. Out of 8,251 candidates, 7,578 are male, 668 female and five are others. National parties have put up 1,591 candidates, State parties 529 candidates and registered unrecognised political parties 2,897 candidates and 3,234 independent candidates are also in the fray.
The country witnessed highest ever over all voter turnout of 66.38 per cent. The last highest record of poll percentage was 64.01 per cent in 1984 general elections held after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
For the first time in the general elections, the option of ‘none of the above’ or NOTA was introduced on the EVMs following Supreme Court directions to ensure secrecy of voters who use this option.