TN counting centres secured with three-tier security

Chennai: The Election Commission has completed all the preparations for vote counting in Tamil Nadu which will commence at 8 am on June 4, an official said.

He said that postal votes would be counted first as per Rule 54A of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961.

“The Counting of votes polled in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will commence at 8.30 am,” the official said.

Around 950 candidates are in the fray for 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu which recorded 69.72 per cent voter turnout in the Lok Sabha elections, with Dharmapuri recording the highest turnout at 81.20 per cent while Chennai Central registered the lowest at 53.96 per cent.

The election officials said that 39 counting centres across the state and 38,000 personnel will be involved in the counting exercise.

“Elaborate arrangements are in place in 234 rooms located in 43 buildings in these 39 counting centres,” the official said, adding that, the counting for the Vilavancode assembly by-election will also be held simultaneously.

He said that at least 3200 counting tables have been arranged across the state with 14 tables in each counting room.

“Additional tables will be set up if there is a necessity and the counting of votes in each of the counting tables will be videotaped,” he said.

The official said that each of the counting tables would be assigned one counting supervisor (Gazetted Officer or equivalent), one counting assistant, multiple counting staff (Group D employee) and one micro observer.

“The counting agents and others will not be allowed to go outside the counting centre during the counting process. They would be allowed to go outside only after the declaration of the results according to the Handbook for Returning Officer 2023 published by the Election Commission of India,” the official said.

He said that after the process of counting of votes is completed at a centre, the respective Returning Officer (RO) will prepare the final result sheet which will have details of the number of votes polled by each candidate.

“The ROs will then have to proceed to make the formal declaration of the result of the election Form 21C in case of all the 39 Lok Sabha seats and 21D in case of the Vilavancode by-election,” he said.

The official said that if two candidates contesting any seat happen to secure the highest number of votes and their votes are equal in number then the result will have to be declared by a draw of lots.

Counting centres across Tamil Nadu have been fortified with a robust three-tier security system. This comprehensive security arrangement aims to ensure the smooth and safe conduct of the vote counting process.

The security setup involves multiple layers:

Outer Ring: Guarded by local police personnel.
Middle Ring: Secured by Special Armed Police personnel.
Innermost Layer: Managed by the Central Armed Police Force personnel.

This multi-layered security framework is designed to protect against any potential disruptions and ensure the integrity of the counting process.

A significant number of police officials have been deployed to maintain security at the counting centres. Across Tamil Nadu, around 40,000 police officers are involved in security operations. Specifically, in Chennai, about 3,000 personnel are stationed at the three counting centres to ensure order and safety.

Additionally, approximately 60,000 police officials will be on patrol across the state, bringing the total number of police personnel engaged in security duties to over one lakh. This includes officials of various ranks, demonstrating the extensive efforts being made to secure the election process.

In support of the local and state police forces, 15 companies of paramilitary personnel have also been deployed. Their presence adds an extra layer of security, particularly in high-risk areas, further enhancing the overall safety measures.

The Lok Sabha elections, which determine the members of the 543-constituent Indian Parliament, were conducted in seven phases from April 19 to June 1.