Elaborate arrangements for counting of votes in Himachal on Thursday

Elaborate arrangements have been put in place for the counting of votes for the 68-member assembly on Thursday with the deployment of around 10,000 staff, including the security personnel, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg said on Wednesday.

He said a team of returning officers and assistant returning officers have also been deployed to ensure smooth counting process.

He said depending upon the availability of the space, a maximum of 14 counting tables and a minimum of eight tables would be available in the counting halls.

He said 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.

The CEO said EVMs belonging to the tribal Lahaul-Spiti district were shifted to Bhuntar in Kullu district where counting of votes will take place. Similarly, for the 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 political parties at the state, district and subdivision levels already and have asked them to depute their counting agents for ensuring transparency,” he said, adding no candidate or any other person will be allowed within a perimeter of 100 metres from the counting centres, except those having an identity card or pass issued by the Election Commission.

The hill state went to polls in a single phase on November 12, and recorded 75.60 per cent voter turnout, breaking the 2017 record of 75.57 per cent.

Though 75.60 per cent voter turnout is the highest till now for the state, higher participation from urban areas could have helped achieve a higher record-breaking turnout.

Shimla’s voter turnout is not only lowest in the state (62.53 per cent) but has actually declined by 1.4 per cent compared to the last election in 2017.

While 76.8 per cent women out of the total 55,92,828 voters exercised their franchise, poll percentage for men stood at 72.4.

Of the 412 candidates in the fray, 24 are women and 388 men. Of the electorates, 193,106 were first-time voters in the age of 18-19 years. There were 121,409 voters above 80 years, while there were 56,501 voters with disabilities.

The main contest is between the BJP and Congress.

In the 2017 Assembly poll, the BJP had won 44 seats, the Congress 21, the CPI-M one and Independents two.

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