‘Counting VVPATs may delay results by 3-4 hours’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 22, 2019

Selection of the Assembly constituency, which is to be taken up for the counting, will be randomly decided by the Returning Officer   -  -

Candidates have the ‘statutory right’ to seek recount in one Assembly segment or the entire constituency, say sources

The results of the Lok Sabha polls 2019 could be delayed by three to four hours per constituency due to the random counting of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with EVMs from five polling stations per Assembly segment, according to former Election Commissioners.

Sources said any candidate contesting the elections has the “statutory right” to seek a recount of VVPAT slips in either one Assembly segment or the entire constituency but this is subject to the approval the Returning Officer (RO). . However, if the RO does not accept his or her plea, the candidate can take recourse to the SC order which mandates random counting of VVPAT slips with EVMs from five polling booths per Assembly segment. Sources indicate that this is being viewed as a “confidence-building measure” among contesting candidates.

Process explained

Explaining the process, N Zaidi, former Chief Election Commissioner, told BusinessLine that the selection of the Assembly constituency, which should be taken up for VVPAT counting, will be decided randomly by the RO under the watchful eyes of the candidates and agents.

“There will be small folded slips which will have the number of each polling station in the Assembly Constituency. If there are 100 Parliamentary segments, there will be 100 small slips, which will be jumbled up. The RO will have to pick five slips. Once they have been picked, the VVPATs from these Assembly segments will be sent the counting centre,” Zaidi explained.

Once the VVPATs are opened, they will be made into piles of 25 each. At the same time, pigeon holes will be made which will be have the names of the candidates. The VVPAT slips will be placed in the correct pigeon holes. These will later be counted for all the candidates.

In case of a mismatch between the final result displayed on EVMs and the manual count of VVPAT slips, re-counting will be done so that they either tally with the result from the EVMs result or the previous slip count.

“Whatever is the outcome in this round will be taken as the final number. It should either tally with the EVMs or the previous VVPAT count,” Zaidi said.

Published on May 22, 2019

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