Counting of Votes Begins in India’s Largest Democratic Exercise

Counting of Votes Begins in India’s Largest Democratic Exercise

In the largest democratic exercise in the world, the counting of votes in Indian elections is a crucial step in determining the outcome. Let’s take a closer look at how the counting process is carried out.

Supervision and Direction of Counting

  • The counting of votes is carried out under the supervision and direction of the Returning Officer (RO) for each seat, who is typically the District Magistrate of the district concerned.
  • Assistant Returning Officers may also oversee the counting process, especially when an RO is responsible for more than one constituency.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) nominates the RO, who is responsible for ensuring the fairness and accuracy of the counting process.

Counting Officials and Tables

  • Counting officials are appointed by the RO to count the votes in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at various tables.
  • Each counting table has a counting supervisor, a counting assistant, counting staff, and a micro observer.
  • The micro observer is responsible for ensuring the sanctity of the counting process at their table.
  • The counting officials are chosen from a database of officers using software developed centrally by the state’s Chief Electoral Officer.

Counting Hall and Tables

  • A counting hall may have several counting tables, with each table having a maximum of 14 counting tables.
  • The location of the counting hall is determined by the RO and is preferably at the RO’s headquarters in the constituency.
  • However, the counting can also take place outside the limit of the constituency if necessary.
  • Each counting hall is a separate room with walls on all sides, preferably with separate exit and entry facilities.

Counting of Votes

  • Two types of votes are counted: EVM votes and votes cast through postal ballots.
  • The counting process begins with the counting of postal ballots, which are counted at the RO’s table.
  • EVM counting starts 30 minutes later, after the Strong Room, where the polled EVMs are stored, is opened in the presence of the Observer, RO/ARO(s), and the candidates or their election agents.
  • The EVM counting is organized on tables arranged in rows and numbered sequentially.
  • Each counting table addresses the votes cast at one polling station at a time.
  • The Control Unit of the EVM used at each polling station is needed to determine the poll results for that station.
  • The counting official activates the Control Unit, presses the result button, and the total number of votes for each candidate and NOTA (None of the Above) at the polling station appears on the display panel.
  • The counting supervisor records the results for each candidate in the Form 17C 1.
  • After all EVMs for a particular round have been counted, a tabulation for the round is done, and the RO announces the result of that round.

Counting Agents and Observers

  • Candidates are allowed to appoint counting agents to represent them at each counting table, including the table where postal ballots are counted.
  • Counting supervisors, counting assistants, micro-observers, ECI-authorized individuals and observers, public servants on election duty, candidates, election agents, and counting agents are allowed to enter the counting hall.
  • Police officers and government ministers are not classified as “public servants” in this context.

Mobile Phones and Rules

  • No one, including the candidate, RO, or Assistant RO, is permitted to carry a mobile phone inside the counting hall, except for the ECI’s Observer.
  • The counting process is carried out following the rules and guidelines specified by the Election Commission of India.

Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. Who supervises and directs the counting of votes in Indian elections?
    • a) Returning Officer (RO)
    • b) Election Commission of India (ECI)
    • c) Chief Electoral Officer
    • d) Assistant Returning Officer
    • Answer: a) Returning Officer (RO)
  2. How are counting officials appointed for the counting process?
    • a) By the Election Commission of India (ECI)
    • b) By the Chief Electoral Officer
    • c) By the Returning Officer (RO)
    • d) By the candidates themselves
    • Answer: c) By the Returning Officer (RO)
  3. Who is responsible for the sanctity of the counting process at each table?
    • a) Counting supervisor
    • b) Counting assistant
    • c) Micro observer
    • d) Election Commission of India (ECI)
    • Answer: c) Micro observer
  4. How many counting tables can a counting hall have at most?
    • a) 10
    • b) 14
    • c) 20
    • d) 25
    • Answer: b) 14
  5. Who is allowed to enter the counting hall during the counting process?
    • a) Candidates, election agents, and counting agents
    • b) Police officers and government ministers
    • c) Election Commission of India (ECI) officials only
    • d) Public servants on election duty
    • Answer: a) Candidates, election agents, and counting agents