Beginning 8 am on Sunday, the counting of votes for the 822 Assembly seats unfold throughout West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry will happen at 2,364 counting halls following the COVID-19 protocols, the Election Commission (EC) stated on Saturday. In 2016, the whole variety of counting halls was 1,002. The over-200-per cent enhance is due to the distancing norms being adopted by the ballot panel to curb the unfold of the coronavirus.
West Bengal can have the utmost variety of 1,113 counting halls, Kerala 633, Assam 331, Tamil Nadu 256 and Puducherry 31, the EC stated. Another purpose the fee has attributed to the rise within the variety of counting halls is the bounce within the determine of postal ballots used within the 5 Assembly polls. “The fee’s measures to prolong the postal poll services to the electors within the classes of senior residents (these above 80 years), individuals with disablities and people affected by the coronavirus witnessed a rise of 400 per cent within the variety of postal ballots (from 2.97 lakh in 2016 to 13.16 lakh in 2021) within the 4 states and a Union Territory,” it stated.
The commission has designated 822 returning officers and more than 7,000 assistant returning officers for the purpose of counting of votes in the four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Nearly 95,000 counting officials, including micro-observers, will perform the task of counting.
No candidates or their agents will be allowed inside the counting halls without a negative coronavirus report, according to the latest result-day guidelines issued by the EC. According to the information received from the state chief electoral officers (CEOs), the contesting candidates have given the details of nearly 1.5 lakh counting agents (including substitutes) in the four states and the UT.
More than 90 per cent of them have already undergone RTPCR or RAT tests. The remaining are being provided with the test facility by the district election officers on Saturday. Test reports from any authorised laboratory would also be accepted, the EC said.
This is also being followed for the counting of votes in the bypolls held to Lok Sabha and Assembly seats across the country. The media authorised by the commission to cover the counting process is also being facilitated with coronavirus tests. Around 12,000 mediapersons have been given the authority to cover the counting.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra reviewed the counting arrangements with senior EC officers and the CEOs of the four states and the UT at a virtual meeting on Saturday. He directed that all laid-down instructions of the EC must be adhered to. He also directed that the counting halls must be fully COVID guidelines compliant.
The CEC complimented the CEOs for a successful completion of polling in the challenging situations of the pandemic.
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