Poll officials all set for counting day in Delhi (Lead)

May 14th, 2009 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) With polling for Delhi’s seven parliamentary constituencies having passed off smoothly May 7, election officials are now prepared for counting of votes in eight centres Saturday.
Election officials here said they are “all prepared for counting day”.

Delhi’s deputy chief electoral officer (CEO) J.K. Sharma said there will be eight counting centres - two in East Delhi constituency and one each in the other six constituencies.

“The counting process will obviously be uniform. However, other things like the number of rounds of counting will not be uniform since that will depend on the number of polling booths in an assembly constituency,” Sharma told IANS.

Citing an example, he said in the West Delhi parliamentary constituency, the counting centre - the Integrated Institute of Technology - will have 10 halls marked for each of the 10 assembly constituencies.

“In each hall there will be 10 tables where the votes will be counted. Depending on the number of polling booths in the constituency, counting will be done in so many rounds. If there are 150 polling stations, then there will be 15 rounds of counting,” he said.

In the Chandni Chowk counting centre, there will be 15 tables in each assembly segment hall and between nine to 12 counting rounds will be conducted. In New Delhi, there will be 14 tables and between seven to 14 rounds of counting and so on.

In four parliamentary constituencies - Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, West Delhi and South Delhi - the counting process will take place simultaneously. In the remaining three seats, the counting will be done one after the other in ascending order of the number of assembly segments, an election commission statement said.

While the counting process is on, each hall will have a counting supervisor, a counting assistant, assistant returning officer (ARO) and a polling agent from a political party.

The statement however said that the poll panel had, for the first time, directed that any legislator, MP, minister or mayor and anyone who has been provided security by the government shall not be allowed to be a counting agent of any candidate.

To ensure transparency in the process, Sharma said that for every three assembly constituencies, there will be one observer who will take rounds to ensure that the counting process is being conducted in a fair manner.

“To ensure transparency, the observer will conduct parallel verification. This means after the first round of counting, the observer will pick two electronic voting machines (EVMs) at random and verify the results with the returning officers.”

According to the state poll panel, the number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) used for the May 7 poll process here were 12,132 control units and 19,578 balloting units. Sharma said an EVM consists of two units - a control unit and a balloting unit - joined by a five-metre cable. The control unit is with the presiding officer or a polling officer and the balloting unit is placed inside the voting compartment.

“Instead of issuing a ballot paper, the polling officer in charge of the control unit presses the ballot button. This enables the voter to cast his vote by pressing the blue button on the balloting unit against the candidate and symbol of his choice,” he explained.

Around 53 percent of the 11.09 million electorate in Delhi came out to vote this time. The polling process took place across seven constituencies in 11,348 polling booths. For each constituency, EVMs containing votes have been stored separately under lock and key.

On May 16, the counting will begin at 8 a.m. with the postal ballots being counted first. Defence personnel and other electors on service - those in foreign missions and on election duty outside Delhi - have been able to exercise their franchise through postal ballots.

As many as 5,000 officials will be involved in the counting process. Of them 2,421 will involved in the actual counting process on the tables in the assembly segment halls. Around 2,000 police personnel will be deployed.

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