election section

roles and duties

COUNTING AGENT[CA]

Under the law, counting of votes is to be done by, or under the supervision and direction of, the Returning Officer of the constituency in the presence of the candidates and their agents. The law authorises the Assistant Returning Officer also to undertake the counting of votes. The counting of votes may be simultaneously done at places more than one and at tables more than one at the same place. As the candidate or his election agent cannot be expected to be physically present at each of such counting places and tables, the law permits the candidate to appoint his counting agents, who may be present at each of the said counting places and counting tables, and watch his interests. Being the representatives of the candidates, the counting agents have an important role to play and their cooperation in this important task will make the matters easy for the counting supervisors and the counting assistants.

Counting Agent[CA] is going to be the counting agent in a constituency in which voting machines are going to be used. CA should, therefore, acquaint themselves fully with the latest position about the rules and procedures prescribed for the conduct of elections by voting machines.

CA must also familiarize themselves with the operation of voting machines. For this purpose, CA should attend the demonstrations of the voting machines arranged by the Returning Officer where the voting machines will be exhibited and the functioning and operation thereof demonstrated and explained.

POLLING AGENT[PO]

The polling agents[ is private person, nominated by candidates] play a very important part in the actual taking of poll, which is the most vital part of the entire process of election. The task of Presiding Officer and Polling Officers at the polling station will be made easy and smooth if the polling agents discharge their duties within their own realm in a cooperative spirit. For this purpose, they should know their functions clearly and carry them out intelligently under the law.

Polling agent should acquaint themselves fully with the latest position about the rules and procedures prescribed for the conduct of elections through voting machines. Polling agent must also familiarize themselves with the operation of voting machines. For this purpose, Polling agent should attend the demonstrations of the voting machines arranged by the Returning Officer where the voting machines will be exhibited and the functioning and operation thereof demonstrated and explained.

duties of POLLING AGENTS

The main duty of the polling agents is to see that the interests of the candidates who have appointed them are safeguarded at the polling stations. Their other duties are:

  1. To help the Presiding Officer to detect and prevent impersonation of voters by challenging persons whose identity as real elector is doubtful,
  2. To help in having the voting machine properly secured and sealed according to the rules before, during and after the close of poll, and
  3. To see that all election records relating to the poll are secured and sealed properly after the close of poll as required by law.
  4. To see that the serial numbers of Control Unit and the Ballot Unit of the EVM being used in the polling station are in conformity with the details provided by the Returning Officer.
PRESIDING OFFICER[PrO]
  1. PrO should acquaint fully with the latest position about the rules and procedures prescribed for the conduct of poll through voting machines .
  2. PrO should familiarize thoroughly with the operation of the voting machine and the functions of various buttons and switches provided therein.
  3. PrO must keep in ready possession all relevant instructions of the Commission.
  4. PrO must have a clear idea of the location of his/her polling station and his/her itinerary to and from the polling station, so as to enable themselves to reach polling station in time without losing any time in finding out the way to the polling station.
  5. PrO must not miss any of the training classes to avoid any important instructions.
  6. while collecting election materials, PrO should ensure that all items have been handed over as per the list supplied along with the material. The most important items are
    1. electronic voting machine [ballot unit and control unit],
    2. tendered ballot papers,
    3. Register of Voters [Form 17A],
    4. marked copy of electoral roll
    5. Form 17C Format of the Presiding Officer's Diary and
    6. extra copies of the roll, green paper seals, strip seals, special tags, statutory forms, sealing wax and indelible ink.
  7. On arrival at the polling station, Pro should have a clear idea of the arrangements to be made for setting up of the polling station in a proper way especially to secure secrecy of voting, regulation of queue of voters, protection of poll proceedings free from outside interference, etc. On arrival at the dispersal centre PrO should also ensure whether polling station has CPF or police arrangement. Also whether there is Micro-Observer and Video Camera deployment at the polling station.
  8. Before the commencement of poll, the voting machine has to be demonstrated to the polling agents, who are present at the polling station at the time of commencement of the poll, to satisfy them that no votes are already recorded therein and that the machine is in perfect working condition. For these purposes, a mock poll shall be compulsorily held by letting the polling agents record a few votes at random for each of the contesting candidates and tallying the result thereafter.
  9. PrO should be clear that according to the Commission's instructions, if there is no mock poll at a polling station, there shall be no poll at that polling station
  10. After holding the mock poll, the votes recorded at such mock poll must be cleared from the control unit of the voting machine so that no data relating to the mock poll remains in the memory of the machine. The control unit of the voting machine then must be sealed and secured by fixing the green paper seal[s] and special tag in the space provided therefore and the strip seal.
  11. The poll must commence at the hour fixed for such commencement by the Election Commission. Before commencing the poll, the candidates or their agents, who are present at the polling station and the polling officers should be briefed about the maintenance of secrecy of vote.
  12. At the commencement of poll, PrO have to make a declaration in a prescribed form about the demonstration of the voting machine, marked copy of the electoral roll and the Register of Voters to candidates or their polling agents present and get it signed by them.
  13. According to the directions of the Commission all electors who have been issued with Electors Photo Identity Cards [EPICs] should produce those cards to exercise their franchise at all general and bye-elections. Those who fail to bring EPICs or who have not been issued with or who have not obtained their EPICs, can be identified by means of the photographs on the electoral rolls, where Photo Electoral Rolls have been supplied at the polling station. In the case of those electors whose identity cannot be established by means of the photograph on the electoral rolls, the identity shall be established by means of any of the alternative documents prescribed by the Commission. Further, if an elector produces an Electoral Identity Card which has been issued by the Electoral Registration Officer of another Assembly Constituency, such cards shall also be taken into account provided the name of that elector finds place in the electoral roll pertaining to the polling station, where the elector has turned up for voting.
  14. The identity of elector should be properly verified by the First Polling Officer with reference to his entry in the electoral roll, the Elector's Photo Identity Card, the photograph of the elector on the Photo Electors Rolls [If the polling station is one, where Photo Electors Rolls have been supplied] or with reference to any of the other alternative document[s] prescribed by the Election Commission of India. The Election Commission issues directions from time to time prescribing various other documents with reference to which the identity of an election can be verified. The unofficial identity slip carried by an elector cannot be accepted as a proof of his identity.
  15. Last four digits of the EPIC/Identity documents produced by the elector should be entered in the 'Remarks' column of the Register of Voters [Form 17-A]
  16. After an elector has been identified, the entry relating to the elector in the marked copy of the electoral roll should be underlined 'Ballot' button and direct the next voter to proceed to the voting compartment to record his vote.
  17. In another eventuality, when the 'Ballot button on the control unit has been pressed to release voting on the ballot unit and the last voter refuses to vote, the Presiding Officer/third Polling Officer, whoever is in-charge of the control unit shall put the 'Power' switch in the rear compartment of the control unit to 'OFF' position and disconnect the ballot unit[s] from the control unit. After disconnecting the ballot unit[s] from the control unit the 'Power' switch should again be put 'ON'. Now the 'Busy' lamp will go off and the 'Close' button will become functional to close the poll.
  18. After the signature or thumb impression of the elector has been obtained on the Register of Voters and his left hand forefinger has been marked with the indelible ink, he shall be issued a voter's Slip [in the prescribed form] showing the serial number at which the entry relating to him has been made in the Register of voters.
  19. The electors shall be allowed to record their votes in the voting machine on the basis of the Voter's slips strictly in the same order in which they have been entered in the register of voters.
  20. If PrO consider an elector to be much below the minimum age of voting, i.e., 18 years, but are otherwise satisfied about his identity and the fact of inclusion of his name in the electoral roll, he/she should obtain a declaration from him about his age, in the form of declaration in Annexure X.
  21. It is PRO's foremost duty to go on recording the relevant events as and when they occur in the Presiding Officer's Diary.
  22. It may happen sometimes that PrO may have a suspicion or reason to suspect that the ballot unit kept in the screened voting compartment is not functioning properly or that an elector who has entered the voting compartment is tampering with or otherwise interfering with the balloting unit by inserting an object or fixing cello-tape or match stick or chewing gum on the blue button or has remained inside the voting compartment for unduly long period. PrO has a right under rule 49 to enter the voting compartment in such cases and to take such steps as may be considered necessary by PrO to ensure that the balloting unit is not tampered with or interfered with in any way and that the poll progresses smoothly and orderly. However, be careful that, whenever PrO enter the voting compartment, do not enter the compartment alone. PrO should permit and take one or two or more polling agents present at the polling station to accompany.
  23. If any incident takes place at the polling station and is not reported by PrO, but reported from any other source, the Commission may take a serious view and initiate action against PrO.
  24. PrO have to regulate the proceedings in the polling station for peaceful and smooth conduct of poll. PrO require much tact for this purpose, but at the same time PrO should be firm and impartial.
  25. PrO have to periodically verify the total number of votes polled till a particular hour by pressing 'Total' button.
  26. PrO must close the poll at the hour fixed for the purpose by the Election Commission, even if the commencement of poll was delayed for any reason. However, all voters present at the polling station at the closing hour of poll shall be allowed to vote even if that means the continuing of poll for some more time. It should also be ensured that after the closing hour of poll nobody joins the queue of voters. For this purpose, PrO should distribute numbered slips, signed by him, to all voters standing in the queue starting such distribution of slips from the last person standing in the queue.
  27. At the close of poll, PrO are required to prepare an 'Account of Votes Recorded' in Part I of Form 17C and obtain the signature of the polling agents in the column specified for the purpose in that Form. Authenticated copies of such account of votes recorded are required to be given to the polling agent of each candidate present at the polling station. PrO also required to make a declaration regarding furnishing of such copies to the candidate's agents in the form prescribed by the Commission.
  28. After the close of poll, the voting machine and all election papers should be sealed and secured in the manner prescribed by the Election Commission. Candidates or their agents present at the polling station shall also be allowed to affix their seals, if they so desire, on the voting machine and the election papers in addition to your seals. PrO should follow carefully the relevant instructions about the sealing and securing of voting machines and election papers so that no mistake is committed.
  29. it is PO's personal responsibility to hand over the voting machine and all election papers duly sealed and secured to the officer responsible for the collection thereof, under proper receipt.
Roles of Returning Officer[RO]

The Returning Officer, are primarily responsible for the conduct of election for the respective constituency. The main items of RO work in that regard are briefly mentioned as below:

Preparation for the poll
  1. Drawing up, well in advance, a District Election Plan specifying different tasks, deadline and strategy and planning to meet it
  2. Do Vulnerability mapping for the Constituency .
  3. Procurement of voting machines and all election materials in sufficient quantity
  4. Issue of public notice of election in Form 1 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 on the day on which the notification calling the election is issued
Processing of Nomination Paper and allotment of symbol
  1. Reception of nomination papers, security deposits, etc.
  2. Administering oath or affirmation to candidates after they have filed their nomination papers
  3. Dissemination of information contained in the affidavits filed by the candidates
  4. Scrutiny of nomination paper
  5. Recording of reasons in brief for rejecting any nomination paper
  6. Receipt of notices for withdrawal of candidatures
  7. Checking whether any party has been granted concession by the Commission under paragraph 10 of the Election Symbols [Reservation and Allotment] Order, 1968
  8. Allotment of symbols to contesting candidates
  9. Preparation and publication of notice of nominations, list of validly nominated candidates and list of contesting candidates
  10. Checking which of the political parties have communicated their list of leaders under Section 77 of the R.P.Act,1951 to CEO as well as ECI.
Ballot paper- printing and distribution
  1. Assessing the requirements of
    1. ballot papers for use in the ballot units of the voting machines
    2. postal ballot papers for service voters and voters on election duty, etc., and
    3. tendered ballot papers and arranging the printing and supply thereof
  2. Preparing the lists of classified service voters who have appointed proxy voters
Confidence building measures
  1. Establishing contact with the contesting candidates and political parties to ensure free, fair and smooth election
  2. Convening of meeting of the Constituency Committee to discuss common problems relating to conduct of election, review of law order situation, enforcement of code of conduct for political parties, etc.
  3. Preparation and commissioning of voting machines about one week in advance before the date of poll
Dispatch of polling parties and election materials
  1. Transport arrangements for the polling parties, voting machines and election materials
  2. Dispatch of polling parties for the conduct of poll and supply of voting machines, tendered ballot papers and other election materials to them
  3. Effective supervision of the poll
  4. Appointment of counting staff
  5. Transport and storage of voting machines after and poll, under strict security arrangements and proper arrangement at 'Reception Centre' to received polling parties after poll.
  6. Fixing of date, time and place of counting and actual counting of votes
  7. Declaration of result
  8. Transmission of all voting machines, election papers and election materials after declaration of result, to the District Election Officer for safe custody
  9. Overall supervision of election work
ASSISTANT RETURNING OFFICER[ARO]

The Assistant Returning Officer, are primarily responsible for the conduct of election for their respective constituency. The main items of ARO work in that regard are briefly mentioned as below: -

Preparation for the poll
  1. Drawing up, well in advance, a District Election Plan specifying different tasks, deadline and strategy and planning to meet it
  2. Do Vulnerability mapping for the Constituency.
  3. Procurement of voting machines and all election materials in sufficient quantity
  4. Issue of public notice of election in Form 1 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 on the day on which the notification calling the election is issued
Processing of Nomination Paper and allotment of symbol
  1. Reception of nomination papers, security deposits, etc.
  2. Administering oath or affirmation to candidates after they have filed their nomination papers
  3. Dissemination of information contained in the affidavits filed by the candidates
  4. Receipt of notices for withdrawal of candidatures
  5. Checking whether any party has been granted concession by the Commission under paragraph 10 of the Election Symbols [Reservation and Allotment] Order, 1968
  6. Allotment of symbols to contesting candidates
  7. Preparation and publication of notice of nominations, list of validly nominated candidates and list of contesting candidates
  8. Checking which of the political parties have communicated their list of leaders under Section 77 of the R.P.Act,1951 to CEO as well as ECI.
Ballot paper- printing and distribution
  1. Assessing the requirements of
    1. ballot papers for use in the ballot units of the voting machines
    2. postal ballot papers for service voters and voters on election duty, etc., and
    3. tendered ballot papers and arranging the printing and supply thereof
  2. Preparing the lists of classified service voters who have appointed proxy voters
Confidence building measures
  1. Establishing contact with the contesting candidates and political parties to ensure free, fair and smooth election
  2. Convening of meeting of the Constituency Committee to discuss common problems relating to conduct of election, review of law order situation, enforcement of code of conduct for political parties, etc.
  3. Preparation and commissioning of voting machines about one week in advance before the date of poll
Dispatch of polling parties and election materials
  1. Transport arrangements for the polling parties, voting machines and election materials
  2. Dispatch of polling parties for the conduct of poll and supply of voting machines, tendered ballot papers and other election materials to them
  3. Effective supervision of the poll
  4. Appointment of counting staff
  5. Transport and storage of voting machines after and poll, under strict security arrangements and proper arrangement at 'Reception Centre' to received polling parties after poll.
  6. Fixing of date, time and place of counting and actual counting of votes
  7. Declaration of result
  8. Transmission of all voting machines, election papers and election materials after declaration of result, to the District Election Officer for safe custody
  9. Overall supervision of election work

ZONAL OFFICER[ZO]

One zonal officer is appointed for 10 polling stations. The Zonal officer's role is a vital one in conducting the elections.They are responsible for the election management from the day of announcement of schedule of elections, till the completion of poll process. Supervisory Cadre officers are appointed as Zonal officers from various departments viz., Revenue, Survey, Agricultural, Devolopment Horticulture Cooperation, HR&CE.

They should be well known about the areas in which their poll stations are located. Route map should be prepared well in advance. Training classes will be imparted to the Zonal Officers by the DEO/observers R.O. The instructions given by the DEO/RO/ARO and observers should be strictly followed by the Zonal officers. The primary responsibility of the Zonal officers are as below

  1. To see that all infrastructure facilities are available in the polling stations.
  2. To ensure that communication plan is available.
  3. To report on movement of unauthorized campaign vehicles, defacement of property misue of buildings and unauthorized campaigning.
  4. Frequent visit must be made for confidence building.
  5. Identification of vulnerable village hamlets.
  6. Ensure that the polling team and all materials have reached their polling stations.
  7. Clarify any last minute doubt on EVM operation or the polling process, amongst the poll personnel.
  8. To ascertain mock poll.
  9. Frequent visit to all polling stations.
  10. Various reports should be submitted to RO/ARO viz commencement of poll, percentage of poll, etc.
  11. Track and report the presence/absence of polling agents.
  12. Handling of poll day complaints.
  13. Escort EVMs with the polling team to reception centre.
  14. At the end of poll to ensure that
    1. PRO diary is filled up properly
    2. EVMs are properly sealed
    3. Copies of 17C are given to polling agents.
    4. Register of 17A is properly filled up.
  15. To submit format report to RO.