Officials will come out with latest tally at specified intervals

The counting of votes, scheduled for May 16, will be transparent as officials will come out with the latest tally at specified intervals, signing the votes in every round and declaring the numbers, Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar said on Tuesday.

Officials would not move to the second round until the first round was completed. For every round completed, they would tabulate the results and hand a signed photocopy to the agents. They would also give a copy to the chief agent and then declare the results on board or screen, he said.

Mr. Kumar was here to launch the training in the counting process for the returning officers, principal assistant returning officers and assistant returning officers of the Lok Sabha constituencies in the Nilgiris, Dharmapuri, Salem, Namakkal, Karur, Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore districts.

He said the Election Commission was keen on ensuring transparency to avoid allegations like the one that cropped up in the last Lok Sabha elections in Sivaganga, from where Union Minister P. Chidambaram was elected.

The declaration of results was likely to be delayed as there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of polling booths. Further, there were places where the number of candidates was high. But the delay would not be more than a few hours, he said, and early leads could be available around 1 p.m.

Once the contestants submitted the final expenses, the EC’s expenditure teams, comprising officials of the Income Tax and Customs Departments, would scrutinise the accounts. In case of any fudging, the EC would pursue legal options.

As for paid news, Mr. Kumar said his office went into two appeals and dismissed one. The decision on the other would soon be known.

From Coimbatore, the EC received complaints on the use of private buses for transporting people to meeting venues. After an inquiry, the EC found the complaints to be true and decided to add Rs. 31 lakh to the expenditure account of a political party.

Mr. Kumar said his office instructed the returning officers and other officials to expeditiously deal with the 3,000 poll-related cases registered across the State. Of these, 1,800 reached the stage of charge sheet.

The aim was to take as many cases as possible to court before May 16.

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