Three-tier security provided for EVMs at strong rooms in Assam

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Three-tier security provided for EVMs at strong rooms in Assam

Nehal Jain | April 27, 2019 12:49 hrs

GUWAHATI: With the three-phased polling for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 coming to an end in Assam, the fate of the candidates have been sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and securely kept in the designated strong rooms.

Three-tier security has been put in place for guarding the strong rooms where the polled EVMs are being kept till the day of counting which is, May 23. The strong rooms are being guarded round-the-clock by a three-tier perimeter comprising state armed police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel. 

The first tier, which is the innermost perimeter, is being manned by a section of CAPF. The second tier is being manned by a section of the state armed police force. The third tier, which is the outermost perimeter, is being guarded by a section of the district executive force.

Officials in the election commission informed G Plus that there are a total of 51 strong rooms in Assam where the EVM machines have been kept and sealed until the counting of votes.

Strong rooms will have only one door and no other door. Adequate number of fire-extinguishers will be arranged at each strong room. The door will have double-lock system; one key is with the District Election Officer (DEO) and another is with the Returning Officer (RO) concerned.

Additionally, the strong room is under 24X7 CCTV camera coverage and the rooms would have uninterrupted electricity supply. A control room adjacent to the strong room will also be operative round-the-clock.

Each strong room is being monitored by a gazetted officer along with a police officer and all visits are recorded. 

No person will be allowed to enter the inner perimeter of security at strong rooms without adhering to the following protocol: Entry in the log-book maintained by the CAPF recording the date, time, duration, purpose, name and designation of the person, such as the Observer, DEO, SP, candidates from political parties and their agents, who have crossed the second security perimeter. Video cameras will be provided to CAPF contingents at all strong rooms to record all visits made by such visitors.

Returning officers have also been directed by the Election Commission to visit the storage campus (up to the inner perimeter only) twice a day to check the log book and videography and send a report to the DEO on the status every day.

It may be mentioned that the EVMs which became defective after some votes were recorded in them are being stored separately in the same strong room. The EVMs which were found to have a problem before the commencement of voting were already replaced and they are kept in a separate room other than the strong room and will be returned to the concerned manufacturer with due protocol.

"We are taking all necessary security measures as per directions of the Election Commission of India. The EVMs will be stored in the designated strong rooms till the day of counting," Assam Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Sahu informed G Plus. 

On counting day, the strong rooms will be opened in presence of contesting candidates or their representatives, returning officers and observers. The entire process of taking out and returning control units would be recorded. 

After completion of counting, control units will be sealed as per existing instructions issued by the Election Commission of India and electronic management software will be used to monitor and record the transport of EVMs and VVPATs. Further, the trucks carrying EVMs will be fitted with GPS tracking systems.

Political parties will be informed in advance about the opening, stocking and sealing of warehouses while shifting the EVMs and VVPATs.


Maniram Dewan Trade Centre being used as strong room for Kamrup (M)

In a first, the Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration has installed strong room at Maniram Dewan Trade Centre in the city. “The district administration is trying its best to ensure the safety of EVMs and it might be the first time that counting of votes in Kamrup (M) will take place in air conditioned rooms,” said Biswajit Pegu, District Election Officer of Kamrup Metropolitan.

The Kamrup (M) district which went into polls on April 23 recorded a turnout of 80.81% with male voters at 81.64%, females at 79.96% and third gender standing at 5.13%. The electorate turnout has been calculated to be 81.83 poll percent in 51 Jalukbari Assembly Segment, 75.62 poll percent in 52 Dispur Assembly Segment, 72.93 poll percent in 53 Guwahati East Assembly Segment, and 78.46 poll percent in 54 Guwahati West Assembly Segment.

Reportedly, 65 Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) malfunctioned and had to be changed at the Kamrup (M) Election district during the final phase of the poll. The machines reached the strong room in Maniram Dewan Trade Centre at midnight on the same day. 

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