The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued directions to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of all the States and Union Territories that the EVM and postal ballot counting can be done simultaneously. Once the EVM counting is completed, the VVPAT slips counting can start as per the prescribed procedure.
The ECI said with the introduction of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) and casting of postal ballot by election duty staff at the facilitation centre, the number of postal ballot papers for counting has gone up considerably.
“Further, with the requirement of mandatory QR code reading for the ETPBS, the postal ballot counting will now require more time. Moreover, there is a mandatory VVPAT slips count of five polling stations per Assembly segment in addition to the cases of VVPAT count that may be required on account of other reasons, such as Control Units not being cleared after mock poll, the Control Units not displaying the results at the time of counting, etc,” said the order.
Where 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 will be mandatorily re-verified by the Returning Officer before declaration of result, said the EC.
“Whenever, such re-verification is done, the entire proceedings should be videographed as per the instructions…,” said the order.