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Rules Amended Ahead Rural Polls

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the three-tier Panchayat polls, the State Government has amended the rules to conduct the elections for Panchayats, Panchayat Samities and Zilla Parishads.  

The Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water department has issued gazette notifications on Odisha Grama Panchayat Election (Amendment) Rules, 2021; Odisha Panchayat Samiti Election (Amendment) Rules, 2021; and Odisha Zilla Parishad Election (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

As per the amended rules, the counting of votes will be done on a date scheduled by the State Election Commission (SEC).

In the last Panchayat polls, the counting was done on the same day of the poll. But, now, the counting will be done on a different date to be fixed by the SEC. The result may be declared one day after the completion of the polls in all places of the State.  

“The Presiding Officer shall after close of the poll, seal the ballot box and voting machine in presence of candidates or their polling agents who may be present, prepare separate bundles of all papers and reports and forward the same to the Election Officer on same day after which the Election Officer shall proceed to take up counting of the votes on the scheduled date in presence of candidates or their agent, if any, who may be present at counting centre,” this was added under the Odisha Grama Panchayat Election Rules, 1965.

 “After the close of polling, the Presiding Officer shall seal the Ballot Box in presence of candidates or their polling agents who may be present, prepare separate sealed packets of all papers and reports and forward the same to the Election Officer after which the Election Officer shall proceed to take up counting of votes on the scheduled date in presence of the candidates and their polling agents, if any, who may be present at the counting centre,” this sub-rule has been added under Rule 30 of the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Election Rules, 1991

The SEC further proposed to have central counting at Block Headquarters instead of counting at the booth level in the next general election to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), 2022. 

“Unless the Commissioner otherwise directs, after the close of polling, the Presiding Officer shall seal the Ballot Box in presence of the candidates or their polling agents who may be present and prepare separate sealed packets of all papers and reports and forward the same to the Election Officer after which the Election Officer shall proceed to take up the counting of votes on the scheduled date in presence of the candidates or their polling agents, if any,” this was included in the Rule 36 of Odisha Zilla Parishad Election Rules, 1994.

Earlier, the SEC had asked the District Collectors to ascertain the availability of Ballot Boxes, both in good as well as in repairable condition.

For this purpose, the requirement of ballot boxes would be the total number of booths in the district. Therefore, there will be substantial increase in the number of ballot boxes that will be used in these elections, the source said.

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