What the FAQ: All you need to know about counting of votes in Assembly Elections 2021

Before taking a look at which party emerges victorious in which state, let's understand how the counting process works
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

After over a month of Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, the results will be declared on Sunday. Before taking a look at which party emerges victorious in which state, let's understand how the counting process works. Here are some of the important aspects of counting day in an Indian election.

How are votes counted?
Counting usually begins at 8 am under the Returning Officer's supervision. At the counting halls, tables are placed and on each of them, a supervisor presides for counting. Representatives or counting agents of each of the candidates are also present. Before counting begins, authorities check the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). The actual counting is done by the supervisor or an assistant. Postal ballots may be counted first or simultaneously. Once a round of counting ends, which comprises data from 14 EVMs, the supervisor, counting agents or candidates have to sign while the Returning Officer countersigns. The results are then announced. This is a videotaped process which is then followed by cross-checking the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips. In case there is a discrepancy between the EVM and VVPAT, the votes printed on the VVPAT slips prevails.

What is an EVM?
It is a device used to record votes and consists of two parts. While the controlling device is placed with the Presiding Officer, the balloting unit is placed inside the polling station. The Presiding Officer releases the ballot for the voter to cast their vote by pressing the button corresponding to their candidate of choice. An EVM can record up to 2,000 votes and once a machine stops working, it has to be replaced. The votes cast are stored in the machine's memory until deleted. It runs on batteries and doesn't require electricity.

When were EVMs first used? How is it allotted?
The first time an EVM was used in India was in 1982. It was used in Kerala's Parvur assembly constituency, replacing the ballot papers.

A polling station receives an EVM after two levels of randomization done by the Election Commission's EVM tracking software.

What is VVPAT?
It is a machine attached to the EVM that can help the voters verify their vote. When a voter casts a vote on the EVM, the VVPAT also shows a slip for a period of just seven seconds corroborating the vote cast. It contains the candidate's name, party symbol and serial number. In case the VVPAT doesn't match the vote cast, a voter is supposed to inform the Presiding Officer.     

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