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Stress on adhering to norms while counting postal votes

Special Correspondent

VILLUPURAM: Care ought to be taken in counting of postal votes and guidelines should be scrupulously followed for determining validity of votes, according to R. Palanisamy, District Electoral Officer and Collector.

The counting of postal ballots would be taken up half an hour before the process for counting of the votes polled in the electronic voting machines begins. In case of a tie between two candidates, in terms of the number of votes registered in the EVMs, the postal votes should be re-counted under the supervision of either the election observer or the returning officer concerned.

In a statement released here, Mr. Palanisamy said that after marking the ballot, the voter should put it in 13-B cover and seal it. Then the voter should duly affix the signature in Form 13-A, and put both these (cover 13-B and Form 13-A) in envelope 13-C and seal it.

The counting officials should carefully open envelope 13-C without damaging the contents. On opening the envelope if the officials do not find Form 13-A the postal votes could be rejected outright.

They could also reject the postal votes on the following grounds: Form 13-A does not bear the signature of the voter, it does not either carry the attestation of the designated officer and, the serial number of Form 13-A does not match with that of cover 13-B.

In such cases, the returning officers should specify the reasons for rejection of the postal votes. With a view to protecting the secrecy of voting, Forms 13-A would later be put in sealed cover and only then 13-B covers would be opened for counting.

The postal ballots could also be turned down for the following reasons: it does not carry any markings or it is just empty; carries more than one marking in different places; torn or damaged; the marking raises doubts about its placement, the ballot is not put in 13-B cover; and, any extraneous writing or symbol found on the ballot.

Mr. Palanisamy said the bogus ballots, if any, though there was absolutely no room for such ballots finding their way into the ballot boxes, would also be rejected. However, the ballots carrying more than one marking against any particular candidate or symbol would be treated as valid, Mr. Palanisamy added.

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