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What is the Process of Counting Votes?

Dec 11, 2022

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Today’s edition of our Current Affairs will comprise a discussion on Process of Counting Votes. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Polity and Governance

Counting Votes, Returning Officer (RO), Assistant Returning Officers (ARO), Election Commission.

For Mains: GS Paper II

About the Process of Counting Votes, About the Returning Officer (RO), Powers of the RO, Other Supervisors, Assistants for the Counting Process.

Context

The process of counting votes is a complex process that requires both pace and precision. We take a look at who are the individuals present in the counting rooms and the roles they play in the process. 

Probable Question

Who are the individuals present in the counting rooms and the roles do they play in the process? Discuss (150 words, 10 marks)

About the Process of Counting Votes

  • Location:
    • All votes should be ideally counted in one location in the constituency. 
    • At the time of Genera Elections with multiple Assembly constituencies, many counting centers can be appointed, depending on the number of votes that need to be counted. 
    • The location(s) for counting votes is decided by the Returning Officer (RO), with multiple centers in assembly segments.
  • Supervision: The centers are being supervised by the Assistant Returning Officers (ARO).

About the Returning Officer (RO)

  • Appointment: 
    • The RO is appointed for each constituency by the Election Commission
    • Generally, the District Magistrate is the ex-officio RO in Lok Sabha elections while the Sub-Divisional Magistrate is the RO in state assembly elections.
  • Powers of the RO: 
    • The RO, during elections, is the highest authority in the constituency.
    • The RO has a wide range of powers in order to peaceful and impartially conduct elections. 
    • They are the final authority in the matter of vote counting in an election.
  • Duties of the RO, with respect to counting:
    • To designate the counting centers and get them approved by the Commission well in advance;
    • To send notice to the candidates about the place, date, and time of counting of votes;
    • To appoint and train counting staff;
    • To count the votes and declare the result.
  • Assistance: The EC also appoints Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) to assist the RO in carrying out all the duties.

Other Supervisors and Assistants for the Counting Process

  • Counting Supervisors and Assistants: On each counting table, there is a counting supervisor (gazetted officers) and up to two assistants who do the actual counting. They are appointed by the RO. 
  • EC-appointed Observers: They are generally employees of the Government of India and are tasked to ensure that all procedures are being followed.
  • Candidates and Counting Agents: Candidates who were on the ballot are also allowed in the counting. All parties and candidates send counting agents to ensure that votes are counted fairly and according to the procedure, and lodge complaints, if any. 
  • Security: Armed forces are in charge of maintaining security at the counting rooms and throughout the path through which EVMs are brought to the counting room. Armed forces are not supposed to enter counting rooms, generally.

News Source: The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/everyday-explainers/who-exactly-counts-your-vote-heres-what-happens-after-polling-is-over-8311747/

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