SHIMLA: More than 10,000 security personnel, returning officers, and other support staff will oversee the counting of votes for the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls on Thursday.
The counting will start at 8 am in 68 counting halls spread across 59 locations throughout the state, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg said on Wednesday. The counting will start with the postal ballot at 8 am followed by EVM counting at 8.30 am.
Garg said that subject to availability of space, a maximum of 14 counting tables and a minimum of eight counting tables will be placed in the counting halls, with a separate table to accommodate nearly 500 postal ballots.
There will also be separate tables for scanning of electronically transmitted postal ballots linked to computers for counting.
About 76.44 per cent of voters had exercised their franchise in the assembly polls held on November 12. As many as 52,859 (87 per cent approximately) postal ballots were received by December 6 by the returning officers from all over the state – an increase of 17 per cent as compared to 2017. A total of 45,126 were received in 2017.
The CEO said that the EVMs for the tribal Lahaul Spiti were taken to Bhuntar in Kullu where they will be counted.
Similarly, for the Bharmour assembly segment, another tribal area, the counting will take place in Chamba. For the Kinnaur assembly segment, the counting will take place in Reckong-peo.
''Meetings with representatives of the political parties at state, district and sub-division levels were held earlier and they have been asked to depute their counting agents for ensuring transparency,'' Garg said.
No candidate or any other person will be allowed within 100 metres of counting centres except those with a valid identity card/pass issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI). A system will be put in place for receiving counting related information and complaints at the CEO office. A helpline number 1950 has been made active.
The counting trends will be available on Voter Helpline App and on results.eci.govt.in. The first randomisation for the entire process was completed on December 1 and the first schedule of training was conducted on December 2 and 3, while the second randomisation process was completed on December 6 and the second training process was in progress on Wednesday, the CEO said.
The third randomisation will take place Thursday before the counting begins.
A three-tier security system has been set up for the strong rooms, the innermost parameter of which will be guarded by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), and second and third by the armed Police and district executive force, the officer said.