The Election Commission on Thursday issued the guidelines on security arrangements for strong rooms and counting centres, and prohibited entry of mobile phones inside the counting halls. In a detailed set of do’s and don’ts, the Commission said three-tier cordoning system should be set up in all the counting premises to prevent the entry of any unauthorised persons.
The 100-metre area around a counting premise or campus should be demarcated as pedestrian zone and no vehicles shall be allowed within this perimeter, it said.
There should be a smooth flow of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) between the respective strong rooms where polled machines are kept in the counting halls.
“A proper barricading of the path used for this purpose should be done so that the transportation from strong room to the counting hall of an Assembly Constituency is not interrupted by the presence of the non-officials and the media persons.
“Trespassing through the barricade by any unauthorised person should be duly eliminated,” it said.
Polling for state Assembly elections of 5 states– Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur– have recently concluded and counting will take place on Saturday.
“No camera — still or video of the media (except the official video camera for officially recording the entire counting process) is allowed to be fixed inside any counting hall. No camera stand should, therefore, be allowed to be taken inside the counting halls by the media and journalists,” the guidelines said.
As part of the three-tier security arrangements, adequate local police force should be stationed at first point of entry to check the identity of the persons seeking entry in the counting premises.
“No person without duly issued authority letter of the EC or photo I-card issued by the concerned District Election officer or Media pass, duly displayed on his person shall be allowed to cross the first cordon. A senior Magistrate shall be posted at the entrance to control the crowd and regulate the entry,” the Commission said.
The second-tier and the middle cordon will be at the gate of the counting premise and it will be manned by the armed police of the state concerned.
“Women shall be frisked only by women police personnel/ women home guards. They should also tell that mobiles, I-pad, laptop and similar electronic devices etc which can record audio or video are not allowed inside the counting hall and they will need to keep it in the media or public communication room.
“The forces deployed at second cordon will also ensure that no one is loitering outside the counting halls and using mobile phones or other communication equipment. (Mobile etc can only be used from designated rooms as said at the counting centers),” it said.
The third and the inner cordon shall be at the door of the counting hall. This will be manned largely by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
There will be frisking arrangements at this stage, too so as to ensure that no mobile phones and other prohibited items are carried inside the counting hall, the EC said.
“In its endeavour to conduct free, fair and transparent polls, ECI have initiated innumerable measures, set up different mechanisms and practices along with issuing various instructions and guidelines to tackle various security issues related to storage of EVMs in the strong room and during the counting process,” the Commission said.
These latest guidelines have been issued to strengthen the overall electoral process, it said.