Who is a counting agent and what are their roles and responsibilities?

Jun 03, 2024

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A counting agent is the representative of a candidate (independent or nominated by a political party) who is contesting elections to parliament or the state legislatures.

Under the law, counting of votes is to be done under the supervision and direction of the Returning Officer of the constituency in the presence of the candidates and their agents.


The law does not prescribe any qualification for a person to be appointed as a Counting Agent. However, the candidates are advised to appoint persons of the age of 18 years and above as their Counting agents so that their interests are properly watched during counting of votes.

What is the function of counting agents?

The counting agent’s job is to observe the counting process from the start till the end, and to report any irregularities that they notice, so that they may be rectified.

The presence of counting agents is an absolute must to ensure that the counting of votes cast by electors takes place strictly in accordance with established systems and procedures. Election laws and rules, as well as the guidelines issued by the EC, from time to time lay down these systems and procedures.

The following persons are not appointed as Counting Agent of a Candidate during an election:

Do counting agents have the right to handle the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and postal ballots during the counting process?

No, they do not have the right to handle either EVMs or postal ballots. They can only watch the counting process from behind a barricade or wire-mesh that separates them and the tables where counting takes place.

It is the RO’s responsibility to ensure that the counting process is fully visible to every counting agent from behind the barricade or wire-mesh. See the sample image of a counting hall below.


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