People watch coverage of Bihar assembly election in Patna on Tuesday.(AP)
People watch coverage of Bihar assembly election in Patna on Tuesday.(AP)

Bihar Election 2020: Over 10 million votes counted, says Election Commission

According to ECI, the counting was taking longer than expected as expansive Covid-19 guidelines were being followed in the state
By Deeksha Bhardwaj | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON NOV 10, 2020 02:39 PM IST

As Bihar elections continue to be a close contest between the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the United Progressive Alliance, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday said that only a fourth of total votes cast in the Bihar polls have been counted till Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of electors in Bihar is 72 million, of which 57.09% or at least 40 million people, cast their ballot in this assembly election according to the Commission. As of 1.30pm, over 10 million votes had been counted in the state, ECI officials said.

The Commission also explained that the counting was taking longer than expected as expansive Covid-19 guidelines were being followed in the state. As per ECI’s guidelines, the number of tables in the counting centres has been slashed from 14 to 7 to ensure social distancing norms. The number of counting halls has also been increased from 38 to 55.

Also Read: Full coverage of Bihar assembly election 2020

“In all assembly constituencies counting is taking place invariably at 14 tables across large halls,” said deputy election commissioner Chandra Bhushan, who is the EC in-charge for Bihar. “The number of rounds of counting range from 19 at the least to 51 at the most. The average number of rounds per constituency will be around 35. We hope to finish the counting as per procedure late tonight.”

Deputy election commissioner Ashish Kundra added that nearly 160,000 ballots were dispatched for service voters, of which (as of the most recent data) over 50,000 have been received by the returning officers (RO).

“The final data for postal ballots will only be available at the RO-level,” said Chandra Bhushan. He added that since the number of rounds of counting would vary from constituency to constituency, the exact data could not be provided.

The Commission had set up nearly 63% more polling booths, up from 65,000 in 2015 to 106,000 in 2020, to meet the Covid-19 guidelines. “Correspondingly, the number of Electronic Voter Machines (EVMs) have also increased to 106,000.”

Deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain further asserted that the EVMs were absolutely robust, shooting down any questions about a possibility of tampering with the counting.

Bihar is witnessing a politically charged contest with numbers seeming to be a far cry from the exit poll predictions. Exit polls had predicted an edge for the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan.

According to the ECI website, as of 1.30pm, the NDA is leading in 133 seats, with BJP scoring the highest strike rate by leading in 75 of 110 seats it contested. The Mahagathbandhan is leading on 98 seats, with RJD leading in 63 of 144 seats.

The difference remains wafer thin in over 115 assembly constituencies, with a margin of less than 10%.

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