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Poll counting delay to keep parties on the Edge

Thursday, May 23, 2019
By A Special Correspondent

VVPATs could delay counting of votes, results likely to be delayed

The mandatory counting of voter chit trails from randomly selected VVPAT machines whose count will be tallied along with the postal ballots and EVM votes could lead to delay in declaration of results for the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state today. According to Election Commission of India (ECI) officials while speaking to The Afternoon D&C on conditions of anonymity yesterday explained that as per the Supreme Court of India orders five VVPAT machines from each of the six assembly segments of a Lok Sabha constituency will be randomly selected by way of lottery. At first the postal ballots will be counted after which the EVM votes will be counted and thereafter the VVPAT chit trails will be tallied before the final results are declared.

This counting sequence of counting of EVM votes and matching them with the VVPAT chit trails will be repeated round wise. The delay is likely to be caused because in some Lok Sabha constituencies like Bhiwandi and Beed depending upon the number of polling stations and number of candidates in the poll fray the counting rounds are as high as 35 rounds. On an average depending upon the time taken for counting of postal ballots, the counting of EVM votes and later on counting of VVPAT voter chit trails and tallying up the VVPAT chit trails with the EVM votes is bound to take up at least five hours. Moreover, the Returning Officer will also have to take into account any claims and objections of contesting candidates regarding EVMs and VVPATs and any demands for recounting of votes.

The counting of votes will commence at 8.00 am in the morning across all the 38 counting centers for the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. More than one lakh counting staff will be engaged in counting of the votes. The ECI official disclosed that 98,430 EVMs were used in four phase wise polling that was held in the state and equal number of VVPAT machines. In all there were 97,640 polling stations covering the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. In all there are 8,067 candidates in the fray in all the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies whose fate will be known today. Out of the total 8,85,64,918 voters in the state, 5,38,42,296 voters actually have cast their ballot with the overall final voting percentage for all the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies being 60.79 percent.

Among the key contests the contest for Mumbai South Lok Sabha constituency between Milind Deora (Congress) and sitting Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, Mumbai North-Central Lok Sabha constituency between BJPs sitting MP Poonam Mahajan-Rao and Priya Dutt (Congress), Mumbai North constituency sitting BJP MP Gopal Shetty and Urmila Matondkar (Congress) will be the contests to watch out for. Elsewhere in the state the other key contests to watch out for will be in Bhiwandi, Raigad, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Nagpur, Baramati, Maval and Nanded among others.

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