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Counting rooms by 200% due to Covid standards; almost a lakh staff to count the votes on Sunday | India News

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NEW DELHI: Starting at 8 a.m. From Sunday, the counting of votes for the 822 Assembly seats spread over West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry will take place in 2,364 counting rooms following Covid-19 protocols, the Electoral Commission (EC ) said Saturday.
In 2016, the total number of counting rooms was 1,002. The increase of more than 200 percent is due to the distancing rules that the survey panel follows to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
West Bengal will have the maximum number of 1,113 counting rooms, Kerala 633, Assam 331, Tamil Nadu 256 and Puducherry 31, the EC said.
Another reason that the commission has attributed to the increase in the number of counting rooms is the jump in the number of postal votes used in the five polls.
“The commission’s measures to expand postal voting facilities to voters in the categories of retirees (over 80 years old), people with disabilities and those affected by the coronavirus saw a 400 percent increase in the number of postal ballots ( from 2.97 lakh in 2016 to 13.16 lakh in 2021) in all four states and one Union territory, “he said.
The commission has appointed 822 tellers and more than 7,000 teller assistants for the purpose of counting votes in the four states and the territory of the Puducherry Union.
Almost 95,000 counting officials, including microobservers, will perform the counting task.
No candidate or their agents will be allowed to enter the counting rooms without a negative coronavirus report, according to the latest results day guidelines issued by the EC.
According to information received from state election chiefs (CEOs), the contending candidates have given details of nearly 1.5 lakhs of counting agents (including alternates) in the four states and the UT.
More than 90 percent of them have already undergone RTPCR or RAT testing. District election officials will provide the test facility to others on Saturday.
Test reports from any licensed laboratory will also be accepted, the EC said.
This is also being followed for the counting of votes in by-elections held in Lok Sabha and assembly seats across the country.
The means authorized by the commission to cover the counting process are also facilitated with coronavirus tests. About 12,000 people in the media have been given the authority to cover the count.
Chief Elections Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra reviewed the counting arrangements with senior EC officials and executive directors from the four states and UT in a virtual meeting on Saturday.
He indicated that all the instructions established by the EC must be followed. He also indicated that counting rooms must comply with Covid guidelines.
The CEC congratulated the CEOs for successfully completing the surveys in the challenging situations of the pandemic.

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