The Election Commission of India (EC) began counting votes for the 17th Lok Sabha Election today at 8:00am, and to avoid any controversy related to EVMs and the voting process, the commission has banned mobile phones inside the counting rooms.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has said that the mobile phone of the Returning Officer (RO)/Assistant Returning Officer (ARO)/Counting supervisor/s, linked to Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Paper (ETPBS) will be allowed inside the counting room. The EC said that the phone would be used to receive the ‘OTP’ to log into ETPBS to start the counting process.
“Mobile phone of the RO/ARO/Counting supervisors, linked to ETPBS, to be used to receive ‘OTP’ to log into ETPBS to start counting thereof have to be brought inside the counting hall”, the Election Commission said in its order.
The order said that the mobile handsets being used in the counting room will only be switched on to receive the OTP (One Time Password) and will be switched off once the system is logged on to the ETPBS. The mobile phone will then be kept in the custody of RO/ARO/Counting Supervisors.
“Inside the counting hall, such mobile handsets are to be kept in the custody of ARO/RO/Observer, whosoever is the senior most officer in the Counting Hall for ETPBS counting, in switched off mode till the counting is over,” the order states.
In case someone wants to re-login after the system login is closed then only the Counting Supervisor can take the phone from the RO/ARO to receive OTP. The EC order also states that a declaration must be signed by all users separately about the Dos and Don’ts for mobile phone usage inside the counting halls.
In addition, permission of the CEO is must for providing mobile phones to any additional user.
“Specific permission be sought from concerned CEO for number of users in each case with the requisite mobile phone numbers being used. Mobile phones are to be allowed inside the Counting hall for all such users”, the order said.