Gearing up for the counting of votes in the Assembly polls in five states on May 13, the Election Commission has directed authorities to ensure that the counting halls are ready by Tuesday.
A three-tier cordoning system should also be put in place to guard the counting premises to ensure a trouble-free exercise, which will decide the fate of several political heavyweights in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, the Commission said.
Sending out detailed instructions to the chief electoral officers (CEOs) of these states, the EC said the counting halls should be ready at least three days ahead of the date of counting and also sought a report from them.
Emphasising that postal ballots would be taken up for counting first, the EC said in case the victory margin is less than total number of postal ballots received, there should be a mandatory re-verification of all postal ballots.
"In the presence of Observer and the RO all the postal ballots rejected as invalid as well as the postal votes counted in favour of each and every candidate shall once again be verified and tallied," the EC said.
The EVM counting could start 30 minutes after commencement of postal ballot counting, it said, adding the penultimate round of EVM counting, however, would not commence unless the postal ballot counting was over.
"CEOs, during their tours, will specifically review arrangements proposed and inspect as many counting centres as possible," it said.
EC's Observers would also undertake detailed inspection of counting centres during their visit, it said and sought a specific report from them.
Elaborating on the security arrangement, the Commission said that there should be smooth flow of EVMs between the respective strong rooms and the counting halls.
The EC said a proper barricading of the path used for transporting EVMs between the strong room of an assembly constituency and the counting hall should be done so that the transportation is not interrupted.
"Three-tier cordoning system should be set up in all counting premises to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons inside the counting premises," the Commission said, adding, except Observers, nobody would be allowed to carry mobile phones inside the counting hall.
Noting that the Observers would keep a close watch on the process of counting of votes and compilation of results, the EC said, "strict discipline should be maintained inside the counting premises and prompt action should be taken against anyone not observing the rules."