ECI deputes 55 Spl Observers, sets up 10 centres for 6 seats

Counting may be delayed due to VVPAT-EVM matching
Ladakh counting at 2 places, 3 centres for KPs

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, May 21: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has deployed 55 Special Observers for counting of votes in six Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and Kashmir on May 23 for which the Commission has set up 10 counting centres including two for Ladakh segment, three for Kashmiri migrants and one each for rest of the five Parliamentary constituencies.
The Parliamentary constituencies of Jammu-Poonch, Udhampur-Doda, Srinagar-Budgam, Baramulla-Kupwara and Anantnag-Pulwama will have one counting centre each while Ladakh segment will have two counting centres i.e. one each in Leh and Kargil districts. Three exclusive counting centres have been set up for Kashmiri migrant voters at Jammu, Udhampur and New Delhi.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jammu and Kashmir, Shailendra Kumar told the Excelsior that adequate arrangements have been made for counting of votes for six Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We have set up 10 counting centres comprising 90 counting halls for six Lok Sabha seats. Adequate number of staff required for counting and security personnel to maintain law and order will be deployed outside all counting centres to ensure that entire process remains peaceful,” Kumar said.
The CEO J&K said the Election Commission of India has deployed 55 Observers for the counting of all six Parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir, who will be available at the counting centres to address any kind of complaints raised by the candidates or their counting agents.
According to sources, declaration of final results in Jammu and Kashmir, like other Parliamentary seats across the country, can be slightly delayed this time due to increase in tallying VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial) slips with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) from every Assembly segment.
“The process of tallying VVPAT slips with EVM count will be taken up after last round of counting,” sources said, adding that five VVPATs might be picked up randomly for tallying with the EVMs.
The Opposition has been demanding 100 percent matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs.
An Apex Court bench headed by the CJI has already directed the Election Commission (EC) to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five machines at polling booths per Assembly segment in the general elections.
The court observed that increase in the number would provide greater satisfaction to the electorate as well as the political parties.
There have been a total number of 75,400 Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots of Service Voters this time. Of them, 62,000 were for Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha constituencies and remaining 13,000 for three Parliamentary seats of Kashmir and one of Ladakh.
The postal ballots can be received till one hour before start of the counting, sources said.
This time the service voters have been transmitted electronically through e-mail and will be received using the similar mode. As many as 250 scanners will be used for scanning postal ballots, sources said.
“All six Parliamentary constituencies have Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots of Service Voters,” sources said.
Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar, who is Returning Officer (RO) for Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency, told the Excelsior that all arrangements have been put in place for counting of voters.
Jammu-Poonch seat has highest number of over 14 lakh votes polled from out of a total of around 21 lakh among all six seats of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ladakh Parliamentary seat has only of 1.23 lakh votes polled from a total of 1.74 lakh.
However, counting for Ladakh Parliamentary seat will be held at two places i.e. the district headquarters of Leh and Kargil. Votes for Assembly constituencies of Leh and Nubra will be counted in Leh district while votes of Kargil and Zanskar Assembly segments will be counted in Kargil district.
Final result will, however, be declared in Leh as Deputy Commissioner, Leh, Avny Lavasa is the Returning Officer for the constituency.
Counting for Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary seat will be taken up at Kathua district headquarters.