New Delhi: The just concluded assembly polls in four states and a Union Territory underscore the rising influence of a new force in the electoral process: information technology.
The biggest strides were made by Kerala, followed by Tamil Nadu.
Voters in Kerala were able to get election results from all the 140 constituencies in minute detail on a real-time basis on their mobile phones, thanks to an aggressive IT initiative from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Kerala.
The south Indian state, which has an IT industry way smaller than that in states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, pulled off a major feat in detailed data gathering and provision of updates on the lead position of candidates every 30 seconds through its website.
According to Sabu Paul Sebastian, additional secretary and additional chief electoral officer (CEO) of the state, officers at different vote counting stations were given the necessary security codes and protocols to update the latest data in the CEO’s servers directly, which were then quickly compiled in an easily readable format to give the latest position of candidates. The information was also instantly fed to television channels for wide dissemination.
“The software for this was prepared by National Informatics Centre and reporting of election result was done with the help of Kerala State IT Mission,” said Sebastian, describing the reporting exercise very effective. The Mission gives managerial support to various IT initiatives of the state.
Kerala CEO deploys IT to bridge the distance between the electorate and the institution on different fronts, including enrolment of citizens in the voters’ list, an entirely paperless process now, and redressal of voters’ grievances, for which an online platform called ‘e-Pariharam’ (e-solution) has been launched. E-anumathi is another initiative to give online permissions relating to elections.
“We also reached out to voters under the ”systematic voters’ education and electoral participation” programme, which helped in improving voter turnout from about 75% recorded in the previous election to close to 77.5% in the latest assembly polls,” said Sebastian.
Tamil Nadu’s CEO’s website too provided online results, while Assam, West Bengal and Puducherry referred online visitors on Thursday to the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) results page. ECI has a voters’ service portal, YouTube channel for voters’ education and a national complaint resolution system.