Counting of postal votes will begin at 8 a.m. in all nine counting centres in Villupuram district on May 13.

However, the results will not be announced separately but declared along with the results of any particular round of the counting of votes polled in the electronic voting machines, according to R. Palanisamy, District Electoral Officer.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Palanisamy said that if counting of postal votes stretched farther, the counting of the last two rounds of EVM votes would be withheld and only after making the former results public, the counting of EVM votes would be resumed.

He also underscored the point that if the difference between the leading candidate and the one closely trailing him was either equal to or lesser than the number of postal votes polled, recounting of postal votes would be taken up.

Neither the candidates nor their agents would be allowed in the counting halls (located inside the counting centres). After every round of counting, the results would be put up on the notice board and announced over public address system. The entire counting procedures would be videographed and compact discs, including round-wise tally, would be made available to the candidates. Mr. Palanisamy said that for every Assembly segment, there would be 14 tables each handled by three officials, including a supervisor, an assistant and an official of the Central government undertaking.

In all, there would be 555 counting officials, including 185 each of supervisors, assistants and Central officials. All around the counting centres, a 100-metre stretch would be declared as a “pedestrian zone” - in other words, no vehicle would be allowed within this area.

Three-tier security would be provided at the counting centres. In the first tier, only those having valid passes issued by the Election Commission would be allowed. In the second tier, persons would be frisked to check whether they are carrying cell phone, matchbox or any sharp-edged weapon.

Any such prohibited article would be seized. Cell phones would be numbered and kept in safe custody. Presspersons were allowed to carry cell phones only up to the media centre where they would have to deposit the handsets before proceeding to the counting hall.

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