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EC 'hopes to finish' Bihar counting tonight

November 10, 2020 19:30 IST

At least 2.7 crore votes out of the over 4 crore votes polled in the Bihar assembly elections have been counted till 5.30 pm, the Election Commission said on Tuesday.

IMAGE: Election officials wearing masks carry out the counting of votes for Bihar assembly polls results, at a counting centre in Patna. Photograph: ANI Photo

EC Secretary General Umesh Sinha said by tonight most of the results would be announced, while the rest would be out late tonight. He was asked whether all the results would be announced by Wednesday.

Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of Bihar Chandra Bhushan Kumar said two-third or 2.7 crore votes of the total over 4 crore polled in electronic voting machines in the three-phase polls have been counted till 5.30 pm.

Commission officials said nearly 1.6 lakh postal ballots were electronically transferred to service votes. Nearly 52,000 postal ballots were used by people above 80 years of age and those with disabilities.

They also rejected allegations that counting of postal ballots was stopped midway was found to be "untrue". They said at no location, counting was stopped.

Earlier in the day the Commission had said that counting of votes for the Bihar assembly elections will take longer than usual and continue till late in the night because of 63 per cent increase in the number of EVMs.

Out of nearly 7.3 crore voters, 57.09 per cent had cast votes in the polls.

An official said the counting has been "glitch-free" so far.

To ensure social distancing norms put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission had increased the number of polling stations from nearly 65,000 in the 2015 assembly polls to 1.06 lakh. This meant an increase in the number of electronic voting machines as well.

This time, the EC has restricted the number of voters per polling station to 1,000 from 1,500 to maintain physical distancing, thus increasing the number of polling stations.

"We hope to finish the counting as per procedure late tonight," said Kumar.

He said in the 2015 assembly polls, counting was held in 38 locations. But to ensure distancing norms, this time, counting is being held at 55 locations.

Responding to a question, Kumar said the number of EVMs deployed have increased. Also the number of postal ballots have used. The Commission has taken steps keeping in mind these.

"There is no question of the pace of counting being slow," he said.

The number of tables used per hall has been reduced to seven from the usual 14. But 14 tables have been put in place, though locations and as a result locations have increased.

Bhushan said the number of rounds for counting varies between 19 and 51 in different constituencies. The average come to approximately 35 rounds.

Each round takes around 30 minutes to complete.

Responding to a query on some people questioning the reliability of EVMs, Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of EVMs Sudip Jain said the machines are "absolutely tamper-proof" and the Supreme Court has upheld the use of the device on multiple occasions.

One control unit and at least ballot unit make for one EVM.

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