Other States

Heavy security as Goa gears up for D-day

Countdown begins: Electronic Voting Machines arriving at Bal Bhavan, the North Goa counting centre, in Panaji on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The North and South Goa district administration have made elaborate arrangements for counting of the Assembly election votes, which will be taken up on Saturday morning.

Counting of votes for 19 North Goa constituencies will be taken up at Bal Bhavan, Campal. In South Goa, the counting will be done at Government College of Commerce and Economics, Borda, Margao. There will be 129 tables at the North Goa counting centre, and 100 in the South Goa centre.

Goa Additional Chief Electoral Officer Narayan Navti told The Hindu on Friday that counting of votes will start at 8 a.m.

He said, “Counting of postal ballots would be taken up first and would have to be finished in half an hour.”

He added that the counting of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) votes will start at 8.30 a.m, even if the postal ballot counting is not finished. “However, the last result will not be declared till the postal ballot counting is completed.”

The Postal Department has handed over the ballots to a nodal officer at the counting centres. Mr. Navti said there are 17,500 postal ballots in total.

“Each round of counting will take at least seven minutes. There will be hardly four or five rounds. Within 40 minutes one constituency will be over. The results should be out by 11.30 a.m.,” he said.

The counting centres are being manned by the Central Security Agencies and the State police.

According to Nila Mohanan, North District Collector, 400 security officials would be deployed in North Goa. Officials added that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) would be imposed near the counting centres. The State has declared dry day on Saturday.

Over 83% voter turnout was recorded in the polls. As many as 251 candidates are in fray in Goa’s 40 constituencies.

The ruling BJP is engaged in a fierce fight with the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, and an alliance of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party-Shiv Sena-Goa Suraksha Manch, for the 40-member House.

Golden rules for VVPAT

The Election Commission authorities said some “golden rules” have been prescribed for accepting any recounting requests.

The first rule is that a Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) recounting can be asked for only in case of a booth and not the entire constituency.

Mr. Navti said any decision pertaining to recounting will come into process only after the candidate’s written application is accepted by the Returning Officer (RO).

The RO, in turn, will also apply “three golden rules” before granting permission: If there was a fault in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) or if the machine was replaced; if any error was documented by the VVPAT; the difference between votes obtained by the winner and the runner up are more or less equivalent to the votes polled on that booth.

“The demand for VVPAT vote counting will be accepted provided it can influence the ultimate results of a constituency,” Mr. Navti said.

When asked why recounting can not be done for an entire constituency, he said, “It is a thermal paper which is very difficult to separate. Then you will need creation of additional infrastructure like pigeon holes for all candidates, additional staff for counting.”

Mr. Navti said recounting will be conducted only after the EVM vote counting process is over.

The Election Commission has used the VVPAT machines for the first time in in the State.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 6:59:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/heavy-security-as-goa-gears-up-for-dday/article17443610.ece

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