The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for counting of votes in all 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana on Thursday, officials said.
Counting will begin at 8 a.m. at 126 centres in 35 places across the state. Chief Electoral Officer Rajath Kumar Wednesday said all arrangements were in place for carrying out the process in a transparent manner.
Postal ballots and service votes will be counted first before taking up the counting of votes in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The first set of EVMs will be brought to tables at 8.20 a.m.
There will be one counting centre in each Assembly segment except Nizambad, where seven segments will have two centres each in view of the record number of candidates.
While 14 tables will be arranged at every counting centre as per the standard norm of the Election Commission, this number will be 18 in Nizamabad.
Officials said this was the first time in the country that 36 tables would be used for counting in each segment. This was necessitated by the participation of 185 candidates in the elections.
The polling in Nizamabad had set many records. Largest number of EVMs were used in the constituency. The authorities used 16 ballot units of M3 version connected to single control unit in each polling station.
As many as 178 farmers had contested the polls in Nizamabad to highlight their demands for remunerative prices for turmeric and red jowar and setting up of a Turmeric Board.
The CEO said after the last round of EVM counting, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips counting will be taken up as per the direction of the Supreme Court. Five polling stations will be randomly picked for matching VVPAT slips with the votes in EVMs.
Rajath Kumar, who also supervised the conduct of Assembly elections in December, said there had been no instance of mismatch of votes between EVMs and VVPATs. There may be a difference if mock polling slips are not deleted from VVPATs, he added.
If the number of votes in EVMs and the Form 17C match but do not tally with the VVPAT slips, then recounting of VVPAT slips will be done as there could be a scope for human error in counting of VVPAT slips, the CEO said.
"If there is still a mismatch after recounting, the VVPAT count will be recorded as correct for declaration of results by the returning officer," he said.
Officials said that 6,745 polling staff will be deployed for counting of votes while 10,000 police personnel were deployed for maintaining law and order.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Jitender said prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, barring assembly of five or more persons would be promulgated within 100 metres of the counting centres.
He said no victory processions will be permitted without specific permission from the competent authority.
According to officials, 62.69 per cent of nearly 2.97 crore voters had cast their votes in the 17 constituencies on April 11.
The voters decided the fortunes of 443 candidates, including 25 women.
Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao's daughter K. Kavitha, senior TRS leader Vinod Kumar, state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy, former Union Minister Renuka Chowdary (Congress) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi were among the prominent candidates.
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