New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday rejected Opposition’s demand for the verification of VVPAT slips before counting of votes for Lok Sabha Elections 2019, which will begin at 8 AM on May 23, Thursday.

Dismissing the plea, the poll body reportedly said that the counting process will be conducted as per the schedule and VVPAT slips will be counter after EVMs and not prior to it.

Earlier on Tuesday, 22 parties of the Opposition submitted a memorandum before the poll body, requesting that the verification of VVPAT slips of randomly identified polling stations should be done prior to the initiation of counting of votes and not after the completion of last round of counting.

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In the memorandum, the parties have also demanded 100 per cent counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations in an Assembly segment where any discrepancy is found during the VVPAT verification.

Notably, this is for the first time in a Lok Sabha election that results of voting machines will be matched with slips generated by paper trail machines.

Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the grounds of excessive use of money power. The poll panel is yet to announce a fresh date for elections in Vellore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several union ministers, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav are among over 8,000 candidates who contested the polls.

A total of 67.11 per cent of the 90.99 crore electors had cast their vote in the seven phase elections. This is the highest ever-voter turnout in Indian parliamentarian elections.

The counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls will be conducted on May 23. The results are expected to be announced on the same day.