Machine by machine, a three-step procedure will be followed for each EVM on counting day:
* The power switch in the rear compartment of the control unit will be switched on, and a green light will glow.
* A paper seal over a Result I/Result button will be pierced.
* The Result I/Result button will be pressed.
The last step will automatically bring on display the total number of votes polled by each candidate at that polling station.
Once the votes polled by each candidate at every polling station — including those by postal ballot— has been entered in the final result sheet, a grand total of the number of votes credited to each candidate will be arrived at.
With around 13 lakh EVMs involved, a lot of preparation will precede these stages. It begins early morning with the opening of strong rooms where the EVMs have been stored after polling. This is done in the presence of returning officers, candidates or their agents, and ECI observers.
Counting begins at 8 am, with postal ballots first. The counting of EVM votes starts 30 minutes later, with the rider that the penultimate round with EVMs will not start until the postal ballot counting is complete.
The entire process will be videographed without compromising secrecy and the video tape will be sealed in an envelope for future reference. The candidates will be entitled to appoint a counting agent for each table provided for counting of postal ballots.
“In case the victory margin (EVM and postal) is less than the total number of postal ballots received, there will be a mandatory re-verification of all postal ballots,” an Election Commission official said.
For counting, only the control unit of the EVM is required. The ballot units will be taken back to the strong rooms. The control units are distributed across various counting tables. A pattern is followed: for instance, in the first round of counting, the control unit used at Polling Station No. 1 will be given to table No. 1.
Before the three-step procedure, four seals put on the polling day will be checked to ensure these are same EVMs used on polling day. If the RO suspects tampering or a replacement, he or she report it to the Election Commission and that machine’s votes won’t be counted. The RO will proceed with counting for other polling stations.
Only after all EVMs of a particular round have been counted, the observer having done parallel counting of two randomly selected EVMs, a round wise tabulation completed, and that round’s result announced by the RO, will the EVMs for the next round be brought in.
During each round, counting supervisors will ensure that at the time of pressing the result button on the control unit, the counting agents of all candidates are shown the display panel of the control unit to their satisfaction so that they can note down the votes polled in favour of each candidate as displayed on the control unit display panel.
To deal with the possibility of control units not displaying results due to malfunctioning, technicians of BEL and ECIL, as the case may be, will be be called in to retrieve data. If they fail to retrieve it, the EVM will be sealed and kept aside and will not be counted and the matter will be reported to the Chief Electoral Officer and EC authorities. When an EVM is kept apart because of either malfunctioning or tampering, the EC’s approval will be needed before declaring the result of that constituency.
The ROs will be held responsible for any inaccuracies or discrepancies, including incorrect totalling.
Interestingly, if two candidates contesting any seat happen to secure the highest number of votes and their votes are equal in number, the result will have to be declared by draw of lots. This will be in the rarest of rare cases. If it does happen, the matter will have to be first reported to the EC seeking directions.