Assembly Election 2021: What are strong rooms; an explainer on their role in storing EVMs, VVPATs
Strong rooms are sealed in a double lock system with the presence of candidates and observers of the Election Commission.
Strong rooms in Indian elections are rooms where EVMs (Electronic Voting Machine) and VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) are stored during polls. These rooms are sealed in a double lock system with the presence of candidates and observers of the Election Commission.
They are monitored via CCTVs and are additionally guarded by security personnel provided by the Central armed police forces. Candidates can keep a vigil on a strong room as well, by being there themselves or sending their representatives.
Storing of EVMs, VVPATs
On the day of polling, a copy of the Form-17C having details of total polled votes, seals (unique number), serial numbers of EVMs and VVPATs used in polling stations is provided to polling agents of candidates.
After completion of the poll, EVMs and VVPATs are sealed in the respective carrying cases, in the presence of polling agents. The signature of the polling agent is taken on the seals.
Polled EVMs and VVPATs are escorted to the strong room for storing in a double lock system in the presence of candidates/their representatives.
On the day of counting, the strong room is opened in the presence of candidates, the returning officer and an EC observer. Round-wise counting units are brought to the counting tables from strong rooms under continuous CCTV coverage.
EVMs and VVPATs are stored back in the strong room in the presence of candidates/their representatives till the completion of the election petition period.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has issued guidelines for the upcoming Assembly election which state that strong rooms should be sanitized before polled EVMs are stored.
The Assembly elections for four states and one Union Territory viz. Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry will be held from 27 March to 29 April. The counting of votes will be held on 2 May.
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