Counting agent on each counting table, one at the RO table and for postal ballots

Shimla: To make sure error-free counting of votes of Himachal Assembly elections on 8th December, the state election commission has decided to conduct two rehearsals on the 2nd or 3rd and 7th of December.

The counting of the votes is to be held on 8th December in 68 counting centers all over the state. The counting will commence at 8 AM.

In a meeting with the representatives of the political parties here on Wednesday, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg informed that the serial numbers of the training EVMs to be used for hand-on training, can be conveyed to the candidates.

Garg informed that each candidate is allowed to appoint as many counting agents as the number of counting tables, besides one at Returning Officer (RO) table and for postal ballots.

“Returning Officers (ROs) would inform the candidates about the total number of counting agents they are entitled to appoint,” Garg said and further informed the political parties that the counting agents would be required to fill Form-18 and their request to be appointed as counting agent would not be entertained on plain paper. The ROs should obtain the list of counting agents in Form-18 in duplicate with their photograph and identity cards from all the contesting candidates by 5 PM till 4th December 2022. However, no requests will be entertained for appointing counting agents after that, Garg clarified.

The declaration of counting agents in Form-18 is to be signed by a counting agent in the presence of RO. Counting of postal ballot papers will be taken up at 8 AM and the EVM counting can start at 8:30 AM and will go on irrespective of the stage of postal ballot counting. Once the EVM counting is completed, the VVPAT slips counting would start of 5 VVPATs randomly selected.

The strong rooms would be opened in the presence of ROs/ AROs, candidates, election agents and ECI observers after making necessary entries in the log book maintained for the purpose. The entire proceeding will be videographed as well.

Candidates or agents won’t be allowed to take mobile phones, I-Pad, laptops and any other recording device in the counting hall.

MP, MLAs, Mayor and Govt Employees can’t be appointed counting agents

The Chief Election Commissioner clarified that the minister of union or state government, a sitting member of parliament, a sitting MLA, chairperson of urban local bodies, mayor of a corporation, chairperson of a municipality, Nagar panchayat, chairperson of Zila Parishad and block Samiti, elected chairperson of national, state and district co-operative institutions, political functionaries appointed as chairperson of government bodies, government pleaders or additional government pleaders or any government servant can’t be appointed as counting agent.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.