Bengaluru, May 22 (IANS) The Election Commission (EC) has made elaborate arrangements, including three-tier security, for the counting of votes in Karnataka’s 28 Lok Sabha seats from 8 a.m. on Thursday, an official said on Wednesday.
“Counting centres are in the district headquarters of each parliamentary seat across the state while three are in Bengaluru for each of its three constituencies – North, Central and South,” the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Sanjeev Kumar told IANS here.
Polling was held in two phases for 14 seats each on April 18 in the central and southern regions and on April 23 in the coastal and northern regions of the state.
Vote count for the two bye-elections held on May 19 in the Chincholi and Kundagol Assembly segments will also be held simultaneously in Kalaburagi and Dharwad districts’ centres.
Of the 5.12 crore electorate in the 28 seats, 3.51 crore cast their votes, accounting for 68.61 per cent polling.
The highest voting percentage, 81.23, was recorded in Mandya, about 100 km southwest of Bengaluru, where South Indian multi-lingual film actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, an Independent supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Nikhil Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are the main contestants.
The lowest voting percentage, 53.47, was recorded in Bangalore South where the BJP’s Tejaswi Surya is pitted against Congress Rajya Sabha member B.K. Hari Prasad.
A total of 461 candidates, including women and Independents contested in the 28 seats, of which five are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribes (ST).
The SC seats are Bijapur, Gulbarga, Chitradurga, Chamarajanagar and Kolar and the ST seats are Bellary and Raichur.
“Postal ballots will be counted first in all the centres followed up votes cast in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), connected to the VVPATs (Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines. We have received 98,606 postal ballots till May 20,” said Kumar.
Of the total postal ballots, 25,768 are from service voters, 24,846 from special messengers at facilitation centres and 47,992 through post.
The counting in each constituency will be from its 7-8 assembly segments and 224 in all the 28 Lok Sabha seats across the state.
In all, there were 58,186 polling stations.
“With 14 tables in each counting centre, their total number are 3,224 in all 28 centres and votes will be counted in rounds, depending on the votes polled in each Assembly segment. There will be 18 rounds on average in each Lok Sabha seat and 4,215 rounds in total,” said Kumar.
The 28 Returning Officers (ROs) in each constituency will be assisted by 258 Assistant Returning Officers (AROs), 180 additional AROs and 80 additional observers.
There are 3,682 counting supervisors, 3,707 counting assistants and 3,738 micro observers.
The 14 seats which went to the polls in the first phase are Udupi-Chikmagalur, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga (SC), Tumkur, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajnagar (SC), Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South, Chikkaballapur and Kolar (SC).
The 14 others where polling was held in the second phase are Chikkodi, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur (SC), Gulbarga (SC), Raichur (ST), Bidar, Koppal, Bellary (ST), Haveri, Dharwad, Uttara Kannada, Davanagere and Shimoga.
Kumar, however, admitted that the results in each seat would be delayed by three to four hours in view of the Supreme Court directive to the EC to tally VVPAT slips with EVMs in five polling booths of each assembly segment of the parliamentary seat.
“Though trends will be available from 11 a.m. onwards, results will be declared after 3 p.m., as each counting round will take about 40 minutes,” said Kumar.
There are 40 VVPATs in every Lok Sabha constituency in the state.
“In case of mismatch between votes in the controlling unit of the EVM and the VVPAT slips, the slip count of the latter will be counted,” added Kumar.