Election Commission will use mobile applications for real-time data monitoring to ensure free and fair polls
The Election Commission (EC) is taking the help of smart information technology systems to ensure smooth conduct of Assembly elections in five states that start next month. The EC will use several election-specific mobile apps and software to update electoral rolls, coordinate with district authorities and central forces for law and order arrangements, engage with candidates and public for grievance redressal and campaigning.
“All the software that has been developed through various elections will be used in the upcoming elections,” says OP Rawat, Election Commissioner of India, adding that its officers will also be using information technology innovatively, depending on the local circumstances.
A total of 690 Assembly constituencies in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will go to polls with 1,85,000 polling stations. The combined electorate is a total of 167.28 million.
While the EC panel will use three software—Suvidha, Samadhan and Sugam—to facilitate campaigning, public grievance redressal and vehicle management, several mobile apps have been developed with a view to ensure free and fair elections. According to EC officials, the mobile apps will streamline the functions of the presiding officer and the polling officer and help police in checking criminal incidents.
The apps have features that would enable poll officials to feed real- time information and data related to polling. The apps will be accessible only to Election Commission of India (ECI) and officials designated by it. Sitting in the EC control room in Delhi, an officer can access any information for any police station in the poll-bound states. The data gathered through the app would play an important role in vulnerability mapping and listing of sensitive polling stations. Even the complaints received by the ECI would be dealt online.
“If you communicate through a traditional means like telephone, possibility of delay is high and there is always challenge in transmitting data and photo. Today, technology has advanced to such an extent that one can create an online group,” says Rawat. “During the Bihar Assembly election in 2016, with the help of Whatsapp group, we could instantly contact our officers at ground level and verify TV reports, and subsequently reach out to media houses with the factual position. Thus public confidence in the election machinery was unabated.”
During the Bihar Assembly election, the EC introduced Suvidha—a single window system for all election related authorisations. According to EC, over 99% applications for vehicles, venues for rallies and loudspeakers were disposed within 24 hours.
The EC has put in place a public grievance redressal system called Samadhan. Now all complaints, whether made in person, online, through mobile app or helplines, will be put under Samadhan and a complaint ID will be sent by SMS to the applicant to track its status. Sugam, an end-to-end vehicle management software, helps owners renting out their vehicles to political parties to track them. The compensation payable is also calculated by the software and in most cases, reimbursed at the time of vehicle release.
All these will be put to test in the upcoming elections in five states.