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Multi-layer security, bigger centres: EC ready to count votes under Covid shadow

According to sources at the Chief Electoral Officer's office, the counting halls will be bigger and better ventilated than those in previous elections to maintain social distancing.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
May 1, 2021 11:32:21 am
The result for Assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and Union Territory Puducherry will be announced by the Election Commission on May 2. (Express photo by Shashi Ghosh)

Bigger vote counting halls with better ventilation; sanitised outer boxes of electronic voting machines; ban on entry of candidates and polling agents without negative Covid-19 report; and more poll officials to count postal ballots.

As the state continued to log record daily Covid-19 cases and deaths, these are among some of the measures taken by the Election Commission of India for the counting of votes on Sunday. The eight-phase assembly election, marred by violence, concluded for 292 of the total 294 seats on Thursday.

A multi-layer security cover will be in place at the total 705 counting centres in the state. Each centre will have a nodal officer accompanied by a health officer to ensure Covid-19 protocols are complied with.

“No candidates/agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT (rapid atigen) test or without having two doses of vaccination against Covid-19. They will have to produce a negative RT-PCR report or RAT report or vaccination reports within 48 hours of the counting. The DEO (district election officer) shall make arrangement of RT-PCR/RAT test for candidates/counting agents before the day of counting,” read an EC order. No public gathering outside the counting venue will be allowed.

According to sources at the Chief Electoral Officer’s office, the counting halls will be bigger and better ventilated than those in previous elections to maintain social distancing. The centers will be disinfected before, during and after the counting. Counting tables will be fewer to ensure minimum contact.

At the entry points, people will be checked for temperature and asked to wash hands with soap or use sanitiser.

“No one with any Covid symptoms like fever, cold etc. will be allowed to enter the counting hall. Candidates may appoint/replace their counting agents if the (Covid) report is positive… There shall be sufficient number of PPE kits for counting agents/candidates,” read the EC order, adding that that every second polling agent must wear a PPE kit.

Each polling official and security person will be provided with a mask, a face shield, a pair of gloves and sanitiser.


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