Hyderabad, Apr 14: Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar on Saturday stated that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) across the state will be classified into four categories and stored in strongrooms at designated locations in every parliamentary constituency until May 23, the counting day.
Explaining the classification being made to provide round-the-clock security based on the nature of the EVMs, Mr Kumar said, "Strongrooms will have a double-locking system. One key will be with the district election officer (DEO) and the second with the returning officer. An electronic management software will be used to monitor and record the transport of EVMs and VVPATs."
He said waterproof containerised trucks or trucks having doors with locking systems that can be sealed will be used to transport the EVMs and VVPATs. All these trucks will be equipped with GPS tracking systems.
Mr Kumar said political parties will be informed in advance about the opening, stocking, and sealing of warehouses while shifting the EVMs and VVPATs. He said the DEO will record videos of the process of transfer and receipt of the equipment.
“Route maps will be shared with the DEO, superintendent of police and commissioner of police. Sufficient police escort will be provided to the trucks en route. An adequate number of trucks will be engaged to ensure the dispatch of the entire allocation of machinery on the day the request is filed,” he said.
The State Election Commission has classified the EVMs into four categories — A, B, C, and D. Category A includes EVMs which contain the votes polled at polling stations. These will be stored in the strongroom after following the due procedure. Category B has EVMs which might have become defective after recording a certain number of votes. They will be stored separately, but in the same strongroom as the Category-A EVMs.
Category C include unpolled EVMs — the ones that became defective before the commencement of voting and were consequently replaced. They will be kept in a separate room and returned to the manufacturer as per protocol. Category D includes unused EVMs which will be kept in the sectoral, zonal, and area-magistrate reserves, and will be stored in a separate room.
As per ECI guidelines, unused EVMs will be transported and stored, under armed guard, at the AMC godown located in Kandlakoya, Medchal mandal, Medchal-Malkajgiri district, which has been classified as a State Central Warehouse.
The transport and storage of EVMs will be conducted after intimation to political parties. Tehsildars and deputy tehsildars will be responsible for their safe transport. Joint collectors or revenue divisional officers will be responsible for the receipt of EVMs from other districts.
The State Central Warehouse will be managed by district election officers sending the unused EVMs and the DEO of Medchal-Malkajgiri district.For the remaining three categories, strongrooms containing the EVMs will be guarded round the clock by a three-tier perimeter comprising the state armed police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel.
The first tier, which is the innermost perimeter, will be manned round the clock by a section of the CAPF. The second tier will be manned by a section of the state armed police force. The third tier, the outermost perimeter, will be guarded by a section of the district executive force.
Strongrooms will have a double-lock system. One key will be kept with the DEO and the second key will be kept with the returning officer concerned. The minimum strength of security at each strongroom containing the polled EVMs will be one platoon.
Two cordons of security will be maintained round the clock at the strongrooms containing polled EVMs with the inner cordon manned by the CAPF and the outer cordon manned by the state armed police force. All strongrooms will be guarded by the CAPF round the clock. No person will be allowed to enter the inner perimeter of security at strongrooms without adhering to the protocol.
Entry in the log book will be maintained by the CAPF recording the date, time, duration, purpose, name, and designation of the person, such as the observer, DEO, SP, and candidates from political parties and their agents, who have crossed the second security perimeter.
No vehicle, including that of officials or ministers or any other political functionary, will be allowed inside the secured campus where the EVMs are stored. District Collec-tors and Superinten-dents of Police will be responsible for the security at strongrooms within the districts and the meticulous implementation of the protocol.