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Monday, November 23, 2020

Explained: Why were the Bihar election results slow this time?

By 5.30 pm, the EC had counted roughly 2.7 crore (or two-third) of the total 4.11 crore votes polled in Bihar.

Written by Ritika Chopra , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | November 10, 2020 4:30:31 pm
Defying most exit polls, the NDA — led by incumbent chief minister Nitish Kumar — defeated the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance with a slim margin to retain power in the Bihar assembly elections. (PTI Photo)

Even as trends at 6 pm show a lead for the NDA, with the BJP increasing its gap against the rest, the Opposition is holding onto hope, given the peculiarity of counting in this election.

Ritika Chopra explains why counting is slower than usual this Bihar election:

What is the latest update on the number of votes counted by EC?

By 5.30 pm, the EC had counted roughly 2.7 crore (or two-third) of the total 4.11 crore votes polled in Bihar. Under normal circumstances, we would have had clear winning leads by now and news channels would have called the election. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Why is counting unusually slow this time?

To maintain social distancing, the Commission had capped the maximum number of voters per booth at 1,000 — down from 1,500 in 2015. This prompted a 63% increase in the number of polling stations — from 65,367 in 2015 to 1,06,526.

More polling stations means more Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). More EVMs means a longer wait for the final result. It is this which is causing counting to be slower than usual, with only two-third of the votes counted till 5.30 pm. Interestingly, there has also been an increase in the number of votes polled through postal ballots — from 1.3 lakh in 2015 to 2.5 lakh. This is expected to add to the wait.

So when can we expect more definitive winning leads and the final result?

Experts usually wait for the poll panel to count at least half the votes to call an election. In case of a close election with wafer-thin margins, as this Bihar election is turning out to be, they wait longer. Given that the EC has counted roughly two-third of the total votes by 5.30 pm, and there are roughly 18 seats where the winning margin is under 1,000 votes, a clear winner may only emerge late night.

How is the counting process in Bihar different from counting under normal circumstances?

There’s no change in the counting process. There is, however, a change in the layout of the counting hall. The number of tables at each counting hall has been limited to seven, as opposed to 14 under normal circumstances, to follow social distancing norms. To maintain the same speed of counting (that is 14 EVMs per round), the EC has increased the number of counting halls from 38 to 55.

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