How Are Lok Sabha Election Votes Counted? What Are ECI Rules? Can An EVM Be Rigged? Here’s All You Need To Know – News18

A security personnel carries an EVM to deposit at the strong room, in Patna on Sunday. (PTI)

A security personnel carries an EVM to deposit at the strong room, in Patna on Sunday. (PTI)

News18 spoke to former officials who have seen and headed the counting process. When asked if an EVM can be rigged, their answer was “no”

The counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls will take place on Tuesday even as voices continue to raise concerns around the process and its sanctity and robustness. On Monday, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar explained that everything will be done by the book and at every stage the candidates and their agents will be part of the process.

So what exactly will happen on Tuesday morning?

As per the rules laid down by the Election Commission of India (ECI), the counting of the votes will start at 8 am under the supervision and direction of the Returning Officer (RO). The contesting candidate, their election agent and counting agents have a right to witness the process and be its part. It is the RO who declares the final result.

Nobody can enter the place of counting except the RO/ARO, counting staff, candidates, their agents and other public servants on duty or persons authorised by the poll body.

The strong rooms will be opened in front of the observers a little before 8 am and under CCTV coverage, the electronic voting machines (EVM) will be brought to the counting table.

  • First, the counting of postal ballot papers will start. About half-an-hour later, the counting of votes from EVMs will start.
  • “There should be a separate table and separate arrangement for the counting of postal ballots. Returning Officer will be responsible for counting of postal ballot paper at his table,” as per the ECI rule book.
  • Both the candidates and their agents as well as the poll officials have to check and inspect the EVMs before counting. They also have to ensure that the Control Unit (CU) or the EVMs are not tampered with and all seals are intact, apart from matching other details like date and time in the machines.
  • Once the counting through EVMs is done, the verification of VVPAT slips of randomly selected assembly segments of a parliamentary constituency is done. As per the poll body, at every step, the candidates and their agents are present. At any stage, if there is any discrepancy or issues, the poll body will take the next decisions as per the rules.


News18 spoke to former officials who have seen and headed the process. Dr Mohd Amin, the former Joint Director and Chief of Protocol ECI, told News18 that the only wrongdoing that was possible was in the case of ballot paper and not with EVMs.

“The EVM is just like a calculator. If it is one plus one, then the result will be two only…between every two votes in the EVM, there is a gap of 17 seconds and it has to be approved by the control unit,” he said.

Speaking about the earlier use of ballot paper, he explained that in case of voting through ballot paper, the scope of fraud voting was very high because “you just had to stamp the ballot paper and put it in the box”. But that is not the case with EVMs.

“While the chances are almost nil, suppose we say someone tried to do something wrong with the EVMs, at max they can add 100 fraud votes in 30 minutes. Between every two votes, there is a gap of 17 seconds,” he explained.

Before every vote, the polling official presses the Ballot Button of the Control Unit which enables the voters to cast the vote in the Ballot Unit. The VVPAT slip is shown for seven seconds. “So it is not easy to cast fraud votes in the EVMs as being alleged,” the official said.

Now the ballot papers are used only in very small numbers for service voters, senior citizens and persons with disability. Amin also explained the candidates and the agents can verify and check the votes polled on ballot papers. “Agents and candidates are the stakeholders and everything happens in front of them,” he added.

Another important aspect of the counting he mentioned is that all the candidates and agents have the details of total votes polled. And any discrepancy in the votes can easily be checked. In short, it is not possible to rig the results.

Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi also spoke to News18 saying that the process of counting of votes is very lengthy and involves a lot of people. On being asked if it is possible to rig or manipulate the results, he said “no”.

On Monday, the poll body clarified that the counting of postal ballots will start first. Followed by EVMs and then VVPATs. “Postal ballots are fewer in numbers so it ends first automatically,” Kumar clarified.

The opposition had demanded that the counting of postal votes should be done first, as per the law.