The counting of votes for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls along with six assembly and one Lok Sabha by-elections will commence at 8 am on Thursday with prohibitory orders in place around counting halls to ensure peace and tranquillity.
According to the Election Commission, the counting of votes will take place at a total of 116 counting centres in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh where six assembly and one Lok Sabha bypolls were held.
In a statement, the EC said counting of votes will be taken up for postal ballots at 8 am and will continue till it is completed.
Postal ballots received before 8 am on counting day are taken up for counting, the poll panel pointed out.
After a gap of 30 minutes from the commencement of counting of postal ballot papers, counting of votes for electronic voting machines (EVMs) will commence at 8.30 am. The EVM counting will continue irrespective of the stage of postal ballot counting, it said.
One counting observer per assembly seat has been deputed in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and for the bypolls. Two special observers each in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be on ground to ensure the smooth counting process, the EC said.
In the states where polls were held recently, the district administration has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC (prohibitory orders) around the counting halls to ensure that peace and tranquillity are not disturbed.
After each round of counting, tabulation of results in a prescribed format is carried out. This is signed by the returning officer and the observer, and a copy is shared with the candidates.
After announcement of round-wise results, counting of next round will be taken up in accordance with the existing instructions.
Postal ballot results will also be shared in the prescribed format after obtaining signatures of candidates' agents.
Since 2019, VVPAT (paper trail machine) slips from five randomly selected polling stations per assembly constituency (or segment in cases of LS seat) are matched with EVM count.
In case the margin of victory is less than the number of postal ballot papers rejected as invalid at the time of counting, all the rejected postal ballot papers are mandatorily re-verified by the RO before declaration of result.
Whenever such re-verification is done, the entire proceedings should be videographed in accordance with the EC instructions, the statement noted.