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RT-PCR tests likely for those entering counting stations, says Sahoo
The public election department is holding talks with the state health department and medical experts on making RT-PCR tests compulsory for those entering the counting stations, Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo told DT Next. In the wake of corona cases peaking, we are considering the maximum bio shield measures for all the 75 counting stations in the state.
Further, there is no active consideration to reduce the number of counting tables. There are women officers on poll duty and stretching the counting exercise beyond 12 to 15 hours will be cumbersome for the counting personnel and political party agents. The entire results will be out on May 2 and the entire process of handing over certificates to elected members will be completed on the same day, the CEO assured.
Meanwhile, the district election officers have also invited the political parties across the state to discuss on the counting arrangements and the corona prevention measures to be adhered to by the political party agents and candidates.
In a related development AIADMK senior leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar on Thursday petitioned CEO Sahoo seeking not to alter the age-old procedure of counting ballot votes. “Through multiple sources, it is learnt that the district collectors are planning to count the postal votes on May 1 and after bundling them into 100 votes, the same will be recounted as bundles the next day to save time,” Jayakumar told reporters after meeting the CEO.
The Opposition DMK had also given its oral consent in few districts, but the AIADMK objects to this new format. The EC should count the votes are per procedure and should not open the strong rooms in advance, Jayakumar urged.
“The AIADMK, DMK, MNM, AMMK, NTK and other alliance parties are also voicing out their opinion on the counting process and the arrangements. We are also expecting the state to take up mandatory RT-PCR tests for all polling staff so that the corona positive people can be avoided on the day and others can count the votes without the fear of virus spread,” an informed government official said.