SHIMLA: The Election Commission has made adequate preparations for the counting of votes for the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections on Thursday. There will be 68 counting halls in 59 locations across the state.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg said 10,000 duty staff including the security personnel have been deployed as part of security arrangements.
He said teams of returning officers and assistant returning officers have also been deployed to ensure smooth counting process.
Polling for 68 assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh was held on November 12, with the state recording a 75.6 per cent turnout, breaking the 2017 record.
The first randomization for the entire process was completed on December 1 and the first schedule of training was conducted on December 2 and 3.
The second randomization process was completed on December 6 and the second training process was in progress today, Garg said, adding that the 3rd randomization will take place on Thursday before the counting begins.
He said that depending upon the availability of the space, a maximum of 14 counting tables and a minimum of eight counting tables would be available in the counting halls.
He said that there will be a separate table for nearly 500 postal ballots.
Besides, there will also be separate tables for scanning of electronically transmitted postal ballots linked to computers for counting.
CEO said that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) for the tribal Lahaul Spiti were shifted to Bhuntar in Kullu and the counting for Lahaul Spiti assembly segment will take place at Bhuntar.
Similarly, for the tribal Bharmour assembly segment, the counting will take place in Chamba and for the Kinnaur assembly segment the counting will take place in Reckong-peo.
"We have also held meetings with the representatives of the political parties at state, district and sub-division levels already and have asked them to depute their counting agents for ensuring transparency," he said adding that no candidate or any other person will be allowed within a perimeter of 100 metres from the counting centres except those having a valid identity card/pass issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Out of the postal ballots issued to employees deployed on election duty, 52,859 postal ballots were received back by December 6, 2022 (approximately 87 per cent) by the returning officers all over the state, Maneesh Garg had said on Wednesday.
Both BJP and Congress have claimed victory in the state which has had a tradition of changing governments for the past several years.
Speaking to ANI, BJP state vice president Rajeev Bhardwaj said the ruling party in the state will "change the tradition (of alternate governments)".
Former state Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu has expressed confidence that the party will come back to power in the state.
He claimed that Congress will win 47 seats while BJP will be able to win 20 seats. According to the exit polls predicted on Monday, BJP has an edge over Congress in a tough fight in Himachal Pradesh.
While most exit polls predicted that BJP will likely retain Himachal Pradesh, one exit poll predicted Congress to lead in the sweepstakes to form government in the hill state.
The exit poll results came out after the conclusion of the second phase of polling in Gujarat on Monday.
The first phase of polling in Gujarat was held on December 1 and results for the two states will be declared on December 8.