Election Commission officials said on Tuesday that the counting of votes in the Bihar Assembly election, the first general election to be held during the COVID-19 pandemic, was not slow but was taking longer due to the increase in number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and postal ballots.
Briefing the media at 10 p.m., EC officials said the counting process was in the last stages. EC Secretary-General Umesh Sinha said he wanted to make it clear that the EC had never been under any pressure from anyone.
On the allegation by the RJD that its candidates were congratulated by the returning officers in 119 seats but were not given the certificates, Mr. Kumar said the results and trends were in the public domain. Responding to the demand for a recount, which the CPI(ML) raised in three seats, Mr. Kumar said wherever the margin of victory was lower than the number of rejected postal ballots, the re-verification was mandatory as per a May 2019 direction of the EC.
Addressing presspersons at 6 p.m., Chandra Bhushan Kumar, Deputy Election Commissioner (DEC) in charge of Bihar, said 2.7 crore of the 4.11 crore ballots cast had been counted till 5.30 p.m.
At an earlier press briefing at 1.30 p.m., DEC Ashish Kundra said just over 1 crore votes had been counted and that there was “significant ground to be covered”. He said the process had been going smoothly and no issues had been reported since counting began at 8 a.m.
Mr. Kumar said the number of polling stations had increased by 63% after the EC decided to cap the number of electors per location to 1,000 instead of 1,500 to maintain social distancing. The number of polling booths and EVMs had increased from 65,000 to 1.06 lakh, he said.
He said the EC had limited counting tables to seven per hall, from the earlier 14, but increased the counting locations from 38 to 55.