New Delhi, May 13: Seeking to address AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's concerns, the Election Commission on Thursday said the staff engaged in counting of votes in Tamil Nadu assembly polls were “properly screened” and adequate measures taken to ensure a flawless process in the exercise. “AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa's concerns have already been addressed and there are several steps we have taken”, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi told PTI when asked to react to her plea for appointment of Data Entry operators of “integrity” for the counting.
The CEC said announcement of the results would be “slightly” delayed this time as the next round of counting would be taken up when counting of all the 14 EVMs in the first round was completed.
The earlier procedure was that whenever counting of one machine was over, a new machine would be brought in, leading to lack of clarity in the counting process, he said. “This is an additional step to minimise any confusion and possibility of any mischief”, Quraishi said. He said the staff who would be tabulating the data and putting them on computer were regular staff used for the preparation of electoral rolls and “they are properly screened”.
“For the first time, the computer tabulation will be done on the Returning Officer's table. If there is no space available on the RO's table, additional tables would be put and an additional agent of the candidate will be allowed”, he said.
Among other measures, he said, a copy of the print-out would be given in real time to the candidate and it would be put on screen and video recorded.“There will be Micro Observer on the data entry table also”, he said.
Jayalalithaa had asked the EC to appoint Data Entry operators of “integrity” for counting of votes, alleging they had facilitated the “fraudulent victory” of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram from Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency in 2009.
“During the counting of votes for Sivaganga Parliamentary Constituency, the votes polled in favour of AIADMK candidate R S Raja Kannappan were entered in favour of Chidambaram and the votes polled in favour of Chidambaram were entered in favour of Raja Kannappan”, she claimed in a complaint to CEC. “The votes that were physically entered by the counting agents/counting officers of Raja Kannappan were deliberately changed by the Data Entry Operators at the time of making entries in Form 20,” she alleged.
In her letter, the opposition leader also attached data ‘physically noted,' by counting agents and the entries made by Data Entry Operators to back her claim. PTI