New Delhi: Counting of votes, the grand finale in the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections in 542 seats, will begin on Thursday along with state assemblies of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for smooth and hassle-free counting as well as for providing authentic and latest updates.
Out of the total 543 Parliamentary seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the Election Commission had cancelled polls to the Vellore seat in Tamil Nadu on the grounds of excessive use of money power. The fresh date for elections in Vellore is yet to be announced.
Counting will also take place for four state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The counting will begin at 8 am and trends are likely to start coming in by afternoon, while results are expected by the evening, an official said.
By evening a clear picture is likely to emerge on who would be the major player(s) in the 17th Lok Sabha and who all will be winners among 8049 candidates in the fray. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting from Varanasi while Congress President Rahul is contesting from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala.
Counting of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) and postal ballots will be taken up first. Counting personnel will randomly select five EVMs from each Assembly segments for matching with VVPAT slips as directed by the Supreme Court.
This is the first time that results of voting machines will be matched with slips generated by paper trail machines. ,The exercise will take place in five polling stations selected at random per Assembly segment. This effectively means the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations.
Meanwhile, a 24- hour EVM Control Room has been set up at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi to monitor complaints relating to polled EVMs. The Control Room contact number is 011-23052123.In all, 67.11 per cent of the 90.99 crore electors exercised their franchise in the seven-phase long polling process. This is the highest ever voter turnout in Indian Parliamentarian elections.