Free and Fair election has been a big issue in our country, and it is also the bedrock of any healthy democracy. But conducting free and fair election is hard to execute especially in a big and diverse country like India. The election committee has to undertake enormous logistics issues in terms of materials and manpower.
However, in recent times our robust electoral machinery and processes are ably aided and streamlined by technology. In the last lok sabha election, electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used in the whole country. This changed the way election was conducted in our country. This was a huge step for our country as it was a paradigm shift for everyone involved in the election including voters, candidates and the political parties.
India has a long history of booth capturing where voters were forced to vote in a biased way by the use of muscle power at the local level. With the use of technology, use of muscle power to capture polling has been reduced drastically. This can be seen in the fact that political parties are now looking to select candidates on their potential rather than use of muscle power.
Before the use of EVMs, elections were a tiresome round of clock strenuous nightmarish exercise. Which started with the cleaning of ballot boxes and ended in counting votes which used to last for days? Last-minute wrangling over doubtful votes created chaos and used to be a terrible experience. This was a decisive as the Supreme Court dismissed a PIL seeking to revert back to ballot papers and ditch EVMs in the ongoing lok Sabha polls. This sends a strong signal indicating that the authorities have belief in EVMs and all the machines work properly in India.
Although no technology is tampered proof, an additional technical device known as VVPAT (Voter-verified Paper Audit Trail) has been install in EVMs around the country to restore faith among voters and candidate and add another level of transparency in the election. This machine helps the voter to view the symbol of the candidate for which he voted on the VVPAT screen once he casts his vote.
Another loophole in the Indian Election was the use of fraud identity on the day of voting. This was eradicated with the use of Election Photo Identity Cards for voters at the time of voting. The use of such card has significantly reduced fake voters and technology again ensured free and fair elections.
The election commission has also used deduplication software across the constituencies to clean multiple voter IDs. Randomized software is used to conceal the identity of polling station staff; this is done to avoid any intimidation or inducement of polling personnel.
The Election Commission is also incorporating video conference to extensive monitor the entire election process. This has enabled them to undertake numerous meetings with the election machinery at ease. Another method to streamline the election is by use of direct webcast from the polling booth. Now any Indian citizens can see what is happening at particular polling from anywhere in India.
Lately, the commission has introduced a new app “CVIGIL”, which can be used by the voters to post complaints directly. People can upload photographs or videos of their complaint. This is a public app and can be accessed by anyone. This has helped build confidence among the public in the fairness and transparency of elections in India.As we can clearly see that technology had a huge impact on elections in India. There are much more credible, transparent and mostly streamlined to be faster and better for everyone involved and this is necessary for a true democracy.