Counting today; nearly 8000 candidates for 543 Lok Sabha seats

New Delhi, May 15: Votes polled in the nine-phased Lok Sabha elections will be counted today to decide who will form the next government.

Election Commission said the counting exercise to be held at 989 counting centres is likely to be completed by 5 PM and trends will be available by 11 AM. By noon, a final picture could emerge on who would be the major players in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Nearly 8000 candidates, including top guns Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal were in the fray, in the largest-ever electoral exercise held in Indian history. The exit polls have projected that BJP will emerge as the single largest party.

The counting of votes will begin at 8 AM when the postal ballots will be counted. According to EC guidelines, half-and-hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting votes from the EVMs will begin.

The 'ballot unit' is switched on in the presence of senior poll officials and counting agents of candidates and the result command keyed in to get results per machine.

These were the first Lok Sabha elections when the option of 'none of the above' or NOTA was introduced on the EVMs following Supreme Court directions to ensure secrecy of voters who use this option. Before NOTA button was installed on EVMs, voters had to fill up form 49 'O' at the polling station which compromised their identity.

Where a paper trail audit or 'voter-verified paper audit trail' (VVPAT) has been used, the counting agent can call for a count of the paper slips in the drop box attached to the voting machine, but a final count is taken by the returning officer.

The polling in all phases was by and large peaceful barring a few incidents by Maoists and some poll-related violence.

Lok Sabha elections 2014 witnessed the highest-ever turnout with 66.38 per cent of an estimated 814 million voters exercising their franchise -- the highest ever in the history of general elections.


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