Counting of votes in Bihar progressed unusually slow Tuesday, and could continue late into the night, given the increase in the number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) deployed in the state on account of COVID19-related precautions, the Election Commission (EC) said Tuesday.
By 5.30 pm, EC had counted roughly 2.7 crore or two-third of the total 4.11 crore votes polled. Out of the 7,737 scheduled rounds of counting, 4,858 had been completed till 5.30 pm. Under normal circumstances, counting of votes would have easily crossed the halfway mark by this time. Follow Bihar Election Results 2020 LIVE Updates
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 per cent 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. That apart, an almost 100% increase in the number of absentee votes (postal votes) — from 1.3 lakh in 2015 to 2.5 lakh. — added to the wait.
The Commission said that it was in no hurry to announce the results. “The emphasis of the Commission is that the procedure and guidelines related to counting and Covid 19 are to be scrupulously and sincerely followed. The Commission has directed that the counting officials need not be in a haste or hurry to declare the results and they should follow all the procedures and take as much time as it is naturally required,” Director General Umesh Sinha said Tuesday.
“Considering the above facts it is natural that it will take some more time than in normal time. You all are aware that the pandemic period is not a normal time… the results may come till late night..” he added.
Listing out the differences between the conventional counting process and counting in Bihar this time, on account of COVID19 precautions, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar said that the number of tables at each centre had been limited to seven, to ensure social distancing, as opposed to 14 under normal circumstances.
On average, each seat will have approximately 35 rounds of counting. The number of counting centres has increased from 38 to 55 to maintain the same speed of vote tabulation, Kumar added.
According to DEC Ashish Kundra, the counting process has been “absolutely glitch-free so far”, with no complaints being brought to EC’s notice.
Dismissing doubts raised over the integrity of the EVMs by former BJP MP and Congress leader Udit Raj, DEC Sudeep Jain said that the voting machines have time and again proved to be robust and tamper-proof and even the country’s top court has upheld the integrity of the machines.
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