Arrangements in place for counting of votes in J&K on Monday

Counting of votes for the five-phased assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be undertaken on Monday, with the authorities finalising all arrangements to ensure smooth conclusion of the poll process to the 12th Legislative Assembly.

PTI| Updated: Dec 22, 2014, 14:49 PM IST

Srinagar: Counting of votes for the five-phased assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be undertaken on Monday, with the authorities finalising all arrangements to ensure smooth conclusion of the poll process to the 12th Legislative Assembly.

Counting centres have been set-up at all district headquarters in the state and the process will begin at 8 AM.

"28 counting centres consisting of 94 halls have been set-up to conduct the counting process at all district headquarters," state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula said here.

More than one counting centre has been set-up in districts like Kupwara, Baramulla and Doda, he added.

Narula said the process would begin with the counting of postal ballots.

"Postal-ballot would be counted first till up to 8:30 AM. Thereafter, the counting of votes on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) would start," he said.

The CEO said in case counting of postal ballots takes more time, even then the counting of votes on EVMs would start at the scheduled time.

As many as 5000 officials, besides concerned Assistant Returning Officers (ARO), would conduct the counting of votes and the entire process would be video-graphed and the trends would be shared every hour.

Narula said the migrant votes of all constituencies of Kashmir region would be counted at Jammu, Delhi and Udhampur respectively.

"It is for the first time that such arrangements have been made," he said.

Police has made elaborate security arrangements for the counting in the Valley and a strategy has been put in place to deal with any law and order problem which may arise during or after the counting.

A total of 821 candidates, including 276 independents, contested the elections to the 87-member House.

The voter turnout in the state this year was 65 per cent which was 4 per cent more than the last Assembly elections held in 2008?development which has generated hope as well as anxiety among all major political parties.

While the ruling National Conference is claiming that higher voter turnout will benefit it at the hustings, PDP and BJP are maintaining that it is a reflection of the people's desire for a change.

The first phase of elections for 15 Assembly seats held on November 25 saw 72 per cent electorate exercising their franchise, while the second phase of polling for 18 seats also recorded same turnout figures.

The turnout fell to 58 per cent in the third phase of polling for 16 seats and was recorded at 49 per cent in the fourth phase of polls for 18 seats.

The fifth phase of elections for 20 seats, all in Jammu region, also saw over 76 per cent voter turnout.

An estimated 65 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the five phases.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Opposition PDP's chief ministerial candidate Mufti Muhammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates, who are seeking election from the 87 constituencies.

While Omar is contesting from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district.