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Organization : Election Commission of Sri Lanka
Facility : Counting Procedure
Country : Srilanka

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Counting Procedure :
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Counting Procedure :

** The responsibility of counting of votes and preferences including the postal votes rests with the Returning Officer.

** Each Counting Centre of an Electoral District consists of an average limit of 10,000 registered electors.
** The counting of votes of a centre commences immediately after the receipt of the last ballot box at the centre and the report of disturbances at polling centers.
** However, prior approval of the Commissioner of Elections is required to commence the count in counting centers.
** This is very important as the Commissioner of Elections is vested with the power to annul the poll of any polling station where disturbances have occurred.
** Counting of postal votes commences after 4.00 p.m.

Arrangement of the Count :
** The chief of the counting centre is the Chief Counting Officer (CCO).
** He / She is a senior staff of the Public Service. Officers of Class I or Special Grade in allied Management Services are appointed to this position.
** At least 6 staff officers (Assistant Returning Officers) attended to the CCO, along with a staff of 20 -30 government servants.
** They belong to various positions in offices / schools.

The process of counting of votes can be classified into three stages :
Stage I – Counting of the number of ballot papers in each ballot box and transferring them to a trough (receptacle).
Stage II – Counting of ballot papers and the preparation of the statement according to the number of votes received by each party and group in the Electoral District.
Stage III – Recording the preferences received by each candidate in the Tally Sheets/ Summary Sheets and calculate the total number of preferences received by each candidate.

Stage I :
(A). Ballot papers in each box are counted and compared with the figures given in the ballot paper statement (ballot paper account) handed over by the Senior Presiding Officer. If there is any discrepancy, this process will be repeated maximum number of three times until both figures in the ballot paper account and the counted figure become equal.

(B). The number of ballot papers in the box is counted and verified with the numbers given in the ballot paper account. Thereafter, it is recorded on the prescribed form with relevant details. This process shall continue in this manner until all the ballot boxes are exhausted.

Stage II :
Stage II is divided into two sub stages :
** Under sub stage 1the ballot papers are sorted according to the votes cast in favour of each party / group.
** The entire table and the staff shall be engaged in this purpose. Unmarked ballot papers and doubtful ballot papers are separated.
** The Chief Counting Officer shall take action on these doubtful Ballot papers.
** Under sub stage 2the ballot papers of each party / group are onceagain sorted, bundled, checked, rechecked, super checked and placed in the receptacle in the following manner.

Sorting – Rechecking the accuracy of ballot papers sorted according to each party / group in sub stage I
Counting – Count and prepare the bundles of 50 ballot papers of the particular party / group
Checking – Check whether the number of ballot papers are 50 in every bundle and they belong to the particular party / group
Rechecking – Recheck whether the number of ballot papers are 50 in every bundle and they belong to the particular party / group

Super Checking (Random Checking) – This is the checking done by the Chief Counting Officer / Assistant Returning Officer taking several bundles of 50 ballot papers randomly, while other officers are preparing bundles of 500 ballot papers from the rechecked 10 bundles of 50 ballot papers and check whether there are 50 ballot papers in every bundle and whether they belong to the same party / group.

** Ballot papers are sorted according to the votes cast in favour of each party or group.
** Any doubtful ballot papers are passed on to the Chief Counting Officer for determination on their validity.
** The Chief Counting Officers are advised always to announce their decisions on doubtful ballot papers and inform the party agents as and when they are presented to them without waiting till the end of the count.

** The valid ballot papers are prepared into bundles of 50 ballot papers and such bundles into 500 ballot papers until all ballot papers are so sorted and bundled and placed in the proper boxes or trays placed on the table of the Chief Counting Officer.

** At the end of this stage, the Chief Counting Officer will hand over the statement on the number of votes received by each party/ group to the Returning Officer.
** At this stage a recount may be requested from the Chief Counting Officer by agents who are not satisfied with the result and the maximum number of recounts so given is two.
** However, if the Chief Counting Officer so desires, he / she may carry out another recount, even without a request from the counting agents.
** With the receipt of the statements of the number of votes received by each party/ group from counting halls, the Returning Officer finalizes the statement of votes obtained by each party/ group for the entire district.
** Based on this statement the number of members of Parliament of that district is allocated to the contesting parties and groups.

Stage III :
(A). Preferences marked for candidates are counted at this stage. At the commencement of this stage the counted ballot papers remain in the respective receptacle as bundles of 50 and 500 per party/ group.

(B). Preference count starts with the ballot papers of the party/ group with the highest number of votes in that counting centre.
** Prior to the commencement of recording of preferences these ballot papers are sorted to select those ballot papers which are not considered as valid for the preference count.
** Included in this category are the ballot papers,
I. with no preferences marked – No P
II. with preferences marked for more than three candidates P3 +, and
III. void due to uncertainty of marking of preferences. – P void

The ballot papers with valid preferences are then sorted out in to the following three categories :
I. ballot papers with only one valid preference – P – 1
II. ballot papers with only two valid preferences and – P – 2
III. ballot papers with three valid preferences – P – 3

(C). The valid ballot papers are counted and re-bundled into bundles of 50 and rounded with rubber bands, paper-wrappers and bull-dog clips. A Tally Officer examines each ballot paper in a bundle of 50 and records the preferences received by each candidate in the respective cage of the Tally Sheet. These entries shall be made in blue ink pen.

(D). Once the entries in respect of a bundle are completed then it is passed to any officer on the opposite side of the table to check all entries. That officer uses a red ink pen and marks every entry in proof of the check he has done. Name and the signature of the respective officers shall be placed on the form in proof of the preparation and the check that they have done.

(E). At the conclusion of this check, the total of each tally sheet is entered in the First Summary Sheet and the bundles along with the Tally Sheets are passed on to the next stage on the table. The Recording Officers shall place their names and signatures on the form.

(F). These First Summary Sheets are then passed on to the next stage on the table to enter the totals in the Second Summary Sheet. The totals of preferences of these two summary sheets per candidate will be the final total of preferences for that counting centre.

At the stage that these Second Summary Sheets are completed for a single party / group, the Counting Officer shall place his signature with the signature of another Assistant Returning Officer in proof of his signature, enclose it in the prescribed envelope, seal it and send to the Returning Officer.

This exercise is continued until the preferences received by all parties and groups are separately prepared and handed over to the Returning Officer. At this stage the counting of votes and preferences in a counting centre comes to an end.

(G). Upon the receipt of the statement of preferences from each counting centre, the Returning Officer prepares the Final Statement of Preferences of each candidate for the district.

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