The results of final rounds of EVM votes will remain on hold until the counting of postal ballots gets over. This measure is being introduced for first time in view of large number of postal ballots which could prove crucial for deciding the winner when the victory margin remains in double or triple digit.
Ashish Chakraborty, secretary with the Election Commission of India (ECI), on Wednesday issued a circular related to postal ballot guidelines to chief electoral officer (CEO) Ashok Jain. The circular said that counting of postal ballots would start half-an-hour before counting of EVMs. It would make counting agents to take sufficient time to count postal ballots.
Counting of postal ballots will start at 8 am on December 8 and the EVM votes at 8.30 am. This measure will help to finish the counting early. However, if the counting of postal ballots continues even after completion of the counting of EVM votes, then the results of final rounds of EVM votes will put on hold till the counting of postal ballots gets over.
“As already instructed in the Handbook for Returning Officers, the penultimate (one before the last) round of counting of votes recorded in EVMs shall not commence till the counting of postal ballot is completed in all respects,” said the same circular. It has been also directed that the counting observers and returning officers will jointly monitor the counting of EVM votes & postal ballots. One assistant returning officer will be assigned the responsibility of monitoring the counting of postal ballots. Around 13,000 voters out of 38,000 had cast postal ballots. These voters are the employees deployed in the election duties.