After the close of polling at 6 p.m. on Thursday, officials at the booths in the Coimbatore Parliamentary constituency completed the formalities and started sending the electronic voting machines (ballot units) and control units to the counting centre at the Government College of Technology.
According to the sources, the last machine landed at the centre around 2 a.m. on Friday. They were from the Sulur and Palladam Assembly segments. In all, 3,326 ballot units and 1,663 control units and the 332 reserve ballot units reached the counting centre amid tight security.
At the counting centre, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Coimbatore City Police are guarding the machines in a three-tier security set up.
The election authorities have stored the machines Assembly segment-wise in separate rooms.
The authorities, in the presence of Returning Officer Archana Patnaik, election observers, and police officers, sealed the rooms on Friday morning.
Guarding the rooms are armed men from the para military forces and Tamil Nadu Special Police. On the periphery of the Government College of Technology are men from the city police.
Sources said that in addition to the three-tier security, the officials have also installed closed-circuit television cameras. The officials had permitted the candidates or their authorised agents to be present at the counting centre.
Special Correspondent in Udhagamandalam adds:
With all the 1,439 electronic voting machines used in the Nilgiris Parliamentary Constituency on Thursday for elections to the Lok Sabha having been brought to the counting centre at the Government Polytechnic College in Kaakathope near here, the place has been declared as restricted area.
Pointing out that the last unit from Bhavani Sagar had reached the centre at 9.30 a.m. on Friday, District Election Officer and The Nilgiris Collector P. Sankar told The Hindu here that a three-tier security system had been put in place. While personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) would take care of the inner cordon, the second tier will comprise officers and men of the Tamil Nadu Special Police. Local police will be in-charge of the outer cordon.
To a question, he said that the percentage of polling recorded in the Nilgiris Constituency for the elections held on Thursday has been revised. It now stood at 72.82 per cent. At the end of polling on Thursday it had been calculated as 72.95 per cent.
Superintendent of Police T. Senthil Kumar said that at any point of time about 70 security personnel under an officer in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police would be guarding the counting centre.
Fire and rescue service personnel have also been stationed at the place.