Assembly elections 2021: 200% increase in halls for counting amid Covid-19
A day ahead of the counting of votes in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said it has increased halls allotted for the exercise from 1,002 in 2016 elections to 2,364 in view of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis. "The counting will take place at 2,364 counting halls as compared to 1,002 halls in 2016 elections, this amounts to more than 200 per cent increase in counting halls. This is in view of the commission’s (ECI's) directions on Covid safety measures and guidelines...," a press release issued by the government read.
Approximately 95,000 officials, including micro observers, will perform the task of counting, the release added.
The commission had, in an earlier order, banned victory processions and directed that "any kind of procession or congregation of supporters of victorious candidates anywhere in constituency(ies) beyond limits on number prescribed by concerned state/UT" will be considered a violation of the order.
Chief Secretaries of all four states and Puducherry were instructed to ensure that all directions of the ECI, given in order to curb the spread of the virus on counting day, are complied with.
Along with mandating officials to wear masks and practice social distancing, the ECI said RT-PCR tests showing negative results for all counting agents were to be produced before the exercise began on Sunday.
"As per the information received from the chief electoral officers, contesting candidates have given details of approximately 1,50,000 counting agents (including substitutes) in five states/UT by the stipulated time. More than 90% of them have already been facilitated RT-PCR/RAT tests. Remaining are being provided the test facility today by the district election officers. The Commission has also directed to accept test reports from any authorized lab..." the release said.