New Delhi: As the country waits with bated breath on Thursday for the results of Lok Sabha elections, not many of us would know how the votes are actually counted. People’s curiosity is piqued also because of the Opposition furore over the Election Commission’s (EC) rejection of its demand of 10% tallying of EVM-VVPATs in case of a mismatch.

Here’s a look at the vote-counting process:

Each candidate can appoint up to 16 counting agents for each place of counting. No one is allowed to use a mobile phone inside the counting hall, except for the observer appointed by the EC.

The venue is guarded by Central security forces as well as state police on duty.

Once counting of votes begins, postal ballot papers are counted first. When the EVMs are brought in, the counting staff and agents inspect them before opening them. Then, the counting of votes begins. The EVM is powered on and the seal over the Result button is pierced. The button is then pressed and it displays the total number of votes recorded for each candidate at a particular polling station.

The EVMs are resealed after one round of counting is over. The Returning Officer waits for two minutes. During that period, if any candidate believes there has been a discrepancy, he can ask for a recount. The Returning Officer decides if the request is valid.

Once all the issues have been resolved, the Returning Officer seeks the observer’s clearance and declares the result and also informs the EC.

The VVPAT system, which is being used for the first time in a general election, enables the voters to verify their votes were cast as intended. It is an independent system attached to the EVM. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate and shows up for seven seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls in sealed drop box of the VVPAT.