Even as the Election Commission of India saw an election that had large voter turnout, the counting of votes will be a more strenuous process as it is for five assembly elections. The day for the much-awaited counting of votes is here and, just like the polling, counting of votes is an elborate affair. It is all a textbook exercise.
Here are some snippets of information that will give a fair idea of how India counts its votes. The entire poll process happens under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.
Rule 51: Time and place for counting
The time and place of counting must be fixed by the Returning Officer at least one week before date of poll notice to be given in writing to each candidate/his/her election agent
Rule 52: Appointment of Counting Agents
As per the directions of the Election Commission of India, a candidate may appoint counting agents which shall not exceed 16 for each place of counting.
Rule 53: Admission to the place of counting
Nobody else except RO/ARO, counting staff, candidates, their election agents and counting agents public servants on duty, persons authorized by ECI.
Rule 54: Secrecy of voting
The Returning Officer must read out provision of section-128 aloud before commencement of counting.
Rule 55C: Scrutiny and inspection of EVMs before counting
Counting staff and counting agents must inspect and ensure that the control unit is not tempered and all seals are intact. If the seal is disturbed, the Election Commission of India should be informed about it.
Infrastructural arrangements at counting centres
Number of tables in counting hall depends upon:
~ Number of polling stations to be counted.
~ Space available
~ Number of counting agents
~ Number of counting staff including micro-observers
~ Security concerns
• In one hall, counting tables should not exceed 14 (during last Lok Sabha elections 2009, even 25 tables were allowed, with Election Commission’s prior approval, provided hall was big enough). In addition to
this one table each for Returning Officer and observer.
• The candidates or their agents are allowed to sit on Returning Officers Table to watch the counting process