The Election Commission (EC) has so far managed to conduct elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Manipur without any major incident. With just one more day of voting to go – the second phase of the Manipur elections and the seventh and final phase of the UP polls will be held on March 8, with two supplementary polls on March 9 – the EC is now gearing up for the counting on March 11.
The counting will take place simultaneously for all five states, and the results possibly declared the same day. In preparation for that, the poll panel has sent letters to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of all states to take 10 measures to ensure that the counting goes off without a hitch.
Here is a list of all the 10 measures the EC has instructed the CEOs to follow:
1. All the existing instructions of the ECI [Election Commission of India, also the EC] on counting arrangement to be strictly followed by the DEOs [district electoral officers] and ROs [returning officers] in letter and spirit.
2. Proper barricading arrangements to be ensured inside each of the counting hall with wire mesh to segregate the counting agents from the counting personnel and EVMs etc, as per the commission's instructions.
3. In each of the counting hall proper arrangement for videography should be made to record the general happenings for effective monitoring of the counting process as per the commission's instructions.
4. Effective barricading from the strong room door up to the counting hall door shall made in such a way that EVMs of each constituency should go to its respective counting hall only and shall not criss-cross each other.
5. For ease of identification, coloured badges may be given to the staff engaged in transporting the EVMs to a particular counting hall each of constituency.
6. As per the commission's instructions, all counting arrangements must be completed by the night of March 7, 2017. The observers shall visit the counting halls on March 8, 2017 and shall send a report to the commission on counting arrangements.
7. It should be ensured that security protocol of strong rooms, as given in the commission's letter number 51/8/VVPAT/2015-EMS dated May 5, 2015, in no way shall be breached while making the barricading arrangements and other preparatory work for the counting hall. If anywhere the counting hall is in the proximity of the strong room or the passage to the counting hall is near the strong room, then proper and strong barricading should be erected to ensure that the access to the inner perimeter of the strong room is completely blocked. In all such matters, the DEO shall personally oversee and approve all such arrangements and ensure that security of EVMs in no way breached. Further, in all such places CCTV cameras may be placed, before under taking the counting arrangements, from where all the happenings of the movement are recorded and shown on a separate TV placed next to the TV fixed already for round the clock viewing of strong room doors by the candidates.
8. On the date of counting, additional CCTV cameras may be installed at such locations from where carrying of EVMs from the strong room to the counting hall can be recorded for effective monitoring.
9. The CEO shall personally monitor and ensure that all the counting arrangements are done as per the instructions of the commission.
10. The entire plan would be shared with contesting candidates by each DEO. The actual work of preparing for the counting shall be started thereafter for which all the contesting candidates or representatives may be invited to be present, if they wish so.