Each reading on electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the 91 counting centres will be captured on video and votes polled entered both manually and using computers, to avoid discrepancies in the counting of votes for the 234 assembly constituencies on May 13, said Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar on Wednesday.
After All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary Jayalalithaa wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner on the need to allow counting agents to monitor data entries in Form 20, the CEO, at a press conference, said that data entry operators were directly being monitored by the returning officers as they usually sat near them in counting halls. Even if they were sitting across the hall, the tally of votes would have to match the data entered manually and using computers.
In her letter, Ms. Jayalalithaa had stated that the votes polled in favour of AIADMK candidate R.S. Raja Kannappan were entered in favour of Congress candidate P. Chidambaram during the counting of Alangudi Assembly segment that helped the latter win Sivaganga Parliamentary constituency in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Her ally, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had also sought the presence of the chief agent or one of the counting agents to sit with the data entry operators.
Mr. Kumar said that the results of each round of counting would be displayed on the board in the counting hall and announced over mike. The candidates as well as media would be given prints of each round of result.
The Election Commission of India had decided to video capture each reading on the EVMs as the quality of recording on web cameras was not clear, he said.
Counting will begin at 8 a.m. with postal votes. Counting in EVMs will be taken up half an hour later. Only those with proper identity cards will be allowed inside the counting centres. Use of mobile phones will be restricted inside the centres, especially the counting hall, where only observers can use such phones. The observers will be present at the counting hall, he said.
No party bias
“There is no party bias. Only rules and regulations were followed and implemented,” said Mr. Kumar when asked for his reaction on DMK president and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's repeated attacks on the EC. Personally, he said it was a satisfying experience with advice from people, media and parties, and as the polling was peaceful.
To another question, he said charge sheets were filed in 5,935 cases of serious nature such as money distribution, bribery and violence, and conviction obtained in 1,378 of them.