The official declaration of the the Lok Sabha election results is likely to get delayed by a few hours on May 23 due to Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines directing that the VVPAT counting of votes should be sequential for assembly segments in each of the parliamentary constituencies.
“The ECI has given instructions that there should not be a hurry to count the votes. The staff on election duty should carry out the counting smoothly to avoid any situation in which candidates can raise objections,” said Monica Singh, deputy election officer.
The entire machinery for counting day is ready, she said, adding, “The procedure for counting of votes, including that of ballot paper, EVM and VVPAT of selected booths, would take time. The Returning Officer of the respective parliamentary constituency will not be able to declare the result till the entire process is completed, so it is likely to take time.”
According to the ECI decision, the VVPAT vote counts would be done for five polling booths of each assembly segment as a step to ensure the actual polling held in Electronic Voting Machines (EVM)s is flawless.
There are six assembly segments in each of the four parliamentary constituencies in Pune district.
The counting of votes for Pune and Baramati Lok Sabha constituencies is going to be held at a godown of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Koregaon Park, while that of Maval and Shirur parliamentary constituencies would be held at Balewadi sports complex.
The district election office is preparing for counting of votes and is providing necessary training to the staff to be deputed for the purpose. The EVMs and VVPATs are kept under tight police security at both venues.
According to the election office, the counting of votes will begin with ballot papers, and after that the votes in the EVMS will be counted. Then the counting of votes for the EVM would begin. The counting of VVPAT slips would be taken up last so as to verify the actual voting.
According to the procedure, the Returning Officer of each constituency has to prepare chits for each polling booth and via lottery, pick up five chits so that the counting of printed slips would be done, which has to match the registered EVM.
“The counting of slips of VVPAT for each assembly segment would take at least one hour if there are no problems,” said an official of the district election department.
Earlier, there was an impression that the counting of VVPAT slips or selected booths would take place simultaneously for each assembly segment, he said, adding, “The ECI has clarified that the counting of vote slips of VVPAT should be undertaken sequentially. It means counting of VVPAT would be done for one assembly segment at a time. So, it would take at least five to six hours if everything goes well or there would be further delay.”
If the polling agents raise objections, then the counting and declaration of results would be delayed further as the Returning Officer has to respond to the objections, the official said.