New Delhi: Finally, the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 process draws to a close with counting of votes for 542 Lok Sabha seats to begin shortly. Simultaneously, counting of votes would be held for state Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkima and Arunachal Pradesh as well, elections to which were held alongside the Lok Sabha elections.

The results are expected only by late evening as this time, there would be a tallying of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with count of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). It is for the first time in the Lok Sabha elections that results of voting machines will be matched with slips of VVPATs.

The exercise will take place in five polling stations selected at random per Assembly segment which means that out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations, the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 polling stations.

As per the procedure, postal ballots would be the first to be counted. The 18 lakh service voters include personnel of the armed forces, central police force personnel and state police personnel posted outside their constituencies.

Diplomats and support staff posted in Indian embassies abroad are also counted among service voters. Of 18 lakh registered voters, 16.49 lakh have already sent their postal ballots to their respective returning officers.

The paper trail machines slips will be counted in the end. The slips will be counted first and the EVM displays would be switched on later to match the results. In case of a mismatch, the results on paper slip count will be considered as final. The entire exercise of EVM-VVPAT tallying will take an additional four to five hours.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) has begun a 24-hour EVM Control Room at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi to monitor complaints relating to polled EVMs. The complaints related to storage issues at strong rooms, security of strong rooms, permissions to candidates to post their agents at strong rooms, CCTV monitoring, movement of any EVMs and any complaints during counting related to EVMs can be registered at the Control Room. The Control Room contact number is 011-23052123.

In all, 67.11 per cent of the 90.99 crore electors exercised their franchise in the seven-phase polling process. This is the highest-ever voter turnout in India’s Parliamentary elections. Out of the total 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the Election Commission cancelled polls to the Vellore seat in Tamil Nadu on the grounds of excessive use of money power. A fresh date for elections in Vellore is yet to be announced.

Some of the prominent candidates in the fray are Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Radha Mohan Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Narendra Singh Tomar and Smriti Irani along with Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal; Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, former chief ministers Digvijay Singh, Sheila Dikshit, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Manish Tewari, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur; Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.