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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: The counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections and state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and the assembly by-polls will commence at 8 am on June 4, the Election Commission said on Saturday. The election commission has also issued several instructions for the counting of votes cast through postal ballots.

In a statement, the Election Commission issued a set of instructions for all poll officials on the procedure to be followed for counting of votes from Electronic Voting Machines, VVPATs and Postal Ballots for the Lok Sabha elections as well as bye-election to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

ECI issues guidelines to poll officials

  • The District Election Officers, Returning Officers (RO) and Observers shall ensure that the existing instructions related to counting arrangements in and around Counting Centers have been fully complied with before counting of votes at the hour fixed for the purpose.
  • The counting of votes of a constituency shall not commence if ECI orders on the adjourned poll at any polling station(s) are pending.
  • The counting of votes of a constituency may commence if a re-poll at any polling station(s) is taking place on counting day. In such case the penultimate round of counting shall start only after re-polled EVMs and VVPATs, from such polling stations are received in the concerned Counting Hall under full security escort, the poll body instructed.
  • The RO should read out aloud the provisions of Section 128 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and Rule 54 of Conduct of Election Rules 1961 to maintain the secrecy of the vote. Under Rule 60 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, counting shall be continuous without any interval.
  • No unauthorized person should be present in the counting hall. Under Rule 53(4), the RO has the authority to direct anybody to go out of the Counting Center, if anyone fails to obey the lawful directions of the returning officer, it added.
  • According to the instructions for counting through postal ballot paper, under Rule 54A of the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, the counting of postal ballot papers shall be started first at the RO’s table. Only such Postal Ballot Papers shall be taken up for counting which are received by the RO before the hour fixed for commencement of counting.
  • The Returning Officer shall furnish the latest account of the total number of postal ballot papers (received from the facilitation centers and through post) to the Observer at the time of commencement of counting.
  • The RO or one of the Assistant Returning Officers shall explain and demonstrate the requirements of a valid declaration to all the counting supervisors, assistants and the micro-observers before the envelopes of the postal ballot papers are distributed to each of the counting tables and actual scrutiny of the declaration by the counting supervisor, the instructions read.
  • The RO shall ensure that there is no inordinate delay in scrutiny of the declarations by the AROs and the counting supervisors. All the cases of rejection of postal ballot on account of defects in Declaration in Form-13A should be re-verified by the Returning Officer before they are actually put in the rejected category, it said.
  • The Observer shall very closely oversee the process of counting of votes by postal ballot especially the scrutiny of the declaration in Form 13A. While submitting the report on counting after declaration of result, the Observer shall include therein a detailed description of the procedure followed for the postal ballot counting. This should specifically make a mention about the total number of postal ballot papers received for counting, number of Postal Ballots rejected, number of tables provided for postal ballot counting and the total time taken for the counting of Postal Ballots.

(With agencies input)

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