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Election Commission of India

Innovations &
Initiatives in
Recent Elections in
India

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II

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Election Commission of India

Innovations &
Initiatives in
Recent Elections in
India

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

“ Democracy must, in essence mean the art

economic and spiritual resources of all the



and science of mobilising the entire physical,

various sections of the people, in the service of


the common good of all.
Mahatma Gandhi

ii

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Message

Election Commission of India handles the largest electoral


operations of the world with 875 million voters spread over
almost one million polling stations across the far and remote
hamlets of our country.

Elections in India are one of the most challenging processes


,
in the country s democratic tradition for the sheer scale,
size, diversity and complexity. This document provides brief
information on some of the major initiatives of the ECI for
enhancing Voter Registration, Health of the Electoral Roll,
Inclusion, Election Access, Voter Education, EVM V V PAT
awareness, Regulating Election Expenditure and Media
Interactions besides some of other key areas of election
management.

The journey of the elections, since independence in India,


is a story of emerging challenges, and addressing them by
the Election Commission of India, through innovation, high
grade professionalism, strategic interventions including
integration of state-of-the-art technologies and aimed at
, ,
providing Free, Fair and Inclusive Elections for continued
strengthening of our democracy.

While the core strength of our electoral system lies in its


constitutional mandate, the strategic initiatives of the
Commission to match the emerging challenges from time
, ,
to time especially under the Strategic Plan 2016-25 have

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Message

helped in forging a larger connect with the voters of


different categories, enhanced the efficiency of the delivery
systems, transparency and levels of integrity across the
electoral processes.

The document brings to you the new initiatives especially


for expanding the elector base, efficiency and efficacy
of the electoral management and system, improvement of
standards and integrity of the process, launch of e-driven
initiatives and the electoral reforms. As such it may be
found useful for the introductory programme like the one
being conducted today.

3rd August, 2018 O. P. Rawat


Chief Election Commissioner of India

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Contents
2 Overview
7 Legal Provisions
11 Electoral Roll
14 Information Technology
23 Election Expenditure Policy
26 Media
30 Systematic Voters’ Education & Electoral Participation (SVEEP)
45 Miscellaneous
48 New Initiatives from Poll Gone States of India
53 Contemporary Issues and Challenges
55 Conclusion

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Innovations & Initiatives in
Recent Elections in India

Overview and challenges, experiences and their contexts


‘I have the power’, this realisation of the and contours that shape their decision to cast
importance of the power of the fundamental or not to cast their vote? Can we motivate
right to vote and the difference it can make the voter to realise the power, feel the power,
to their lives and the nation makes the Voter believe in that power and energise him/her to
the central actor, the real hero, in democratic take that call that their one vote can and does
election process. Is voting just a right, a duty, a make the difference.
voluntary action or an empowering collective
journey taken by massive number of people It is an immense challenge given the size, scale,
deciding not the fate of the candidate but their scope, diversity, geography, socio-culture-faith
own? factors, family- community dynamics, gender
bias, disability and sometime just the apathy,
Who the voter decides to vote for is his/ indifference and laziness. Voting is not just a
her individual choice and decision, but the physical action; it is not just a management or
voter should surely and definitely participate logistic issue; it is not just a matter of right or
in the election process. Can we inform, duty; it is ‘the power of one’ that moves the
empower, engage, and facilitate the voter to mountains, changes the course of rivers, and
do so? Can we understand their reasons and brightens the stars and the constellations in
perceptions, beliefs and motivations, barriers the sky, as witnessed in the history of mankind.

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Expanding mandate of Voter The Election Commission has successfully
Participation converted this aspiration into a reality.
This was undoubtedly a gigantic task, right
Voters’ participation in the democratic and from enumerating voters to locating polling
electoral processes is integral to the successful booths at easily accessible places and
running of any democracy. Thus, it becomes
a fundamental part of election management.
In India, the constitutional mandate of the
ECI for ‘superintendence, direction and
control’ of elections contain the built in high
responsibility to have every eligible Indian
on the electoral roll and get everyone on the
electoral roll to voluntarily vote. The election
management processes have gone from
strength to strength over the decades and
have responded ably to emerging challenges.

The electoral process is one of the major


unifying activities for the Indian citizens. The
Election Day is the one day when everyone
in India is EQUAL. India’s Constitution laid
out the aspiration that every adult Indian
regardless of gender, formal education, socio
economic status or location would have a right
to vote and every vote would count the same.
To many it looked an audacious aspiration,
even impracticable in a country of our size,
with limited physical infrastructure, with low
levels of literacy and wide diversity.

First Lok Sabha Elections, 1951-52


The Indian general election of 1951–52 elected the first Lok Sabha since India became independent
in August 1947. Until this point, the Indian Constituent Assembly had served as an interim legislature.
Polling was held between 25 October 1951 and 21 February 1952. Although the majority of votes were
cast in February 1952, voters in the state of Himachal Pradesh were given the chance to vote in October
1951 because the heavy snowfall, primitive roads, and mountainous terrain of that state made it likely
that polling stations would be largely unreachable during a February election. The very first votes of the
election were cast in the tehsil (district) of Chini in Himachal Pradesh. The first general elections, which
were conducted for 489 seats in 401 constituencies, represented 26 Indian states. There were 173.2
million Electors and the voter turnout was 61.16 %.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

ensuring secrecy and security of the ballot Voting Machines. Results now get declared in
paper. The sheer number of voters and the one day. Each of these changes was, in some
logistical challenges on account of distances sense, a break-through. These improvements
and accessibility were truly huge. But the have contributed not only to the speedy
Commission rose to the challenge. It goes to conduct of elections but also to enhancing
the Commission’s credit that despite these the transparency and credibility of the whole
enormous difficulties both Indians as well as electoral process.
the whole world perceive elections in India as
being fair and free consistently.

The Election Commission has also been quick


in keeping itself abreast of technological
changes and in introducing improvements
in the electoral process. Electoral rolls are
computerized. Most voters have voter identity
cards, proceedings in sensitive polling booths
are video-graphed, polling at several booths
is webcast, and political parties have free
time on national television. Ballot papers and
ballot boxes have been replaced by Electronic

Made his vote count ever since 1951


Inspiring millions with his undaunted spirit

“I will walk to the polling station”, said Mr. Negi as he trudged several kilometres, early
in the morning of 7th July, 2014 accompanied by his wife Hira Mani, to reach polling
booth no. 50 in Kalpa village of the Kinnaur district. As he reached his destination
amid cheering crowds and traditional trumpet music, he was greeted and facilitated by
the Deputy Commissioner. After checking his name registered on serial no. 123, with
great pride he got his finger inked and cast his vote for the 16th Lok Sabha elections.

97 year old Mr. Shyam Saran Negi is a retired schoolteacher who cast the first vote in
the 1951 general election in India — the nation’s first election since the end of the British Raj in 1947.
Although the majority of the election took place in February 1952, residents of Himachal Pradesh were
given the chance to vote five months early because of the probability that heavy snowfall would make
it impossible for citizens to reach the polling stations. Father to ten and grandfather to many, Mr. Negi
recalls how ballot boxes were carried on mule backs back then in these difficult terrains. For him this
franchise is much greater than a duty, much more than a right.

Mr. Negi has voted in every general election since 1951, and is believed to be one of India’s oldest voters
as well its first.

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Dimensions and challenges of
Voter Participation
Election Commission of India (ECI) is a very
small secretariat headquartered in Delhi, and it
has developed a unique way of micro managing
elections. Lok Sabha 2014 elections involved
up to 834 million electors1, using over one
million Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)
and covered over 919,452 polling stations.
In most cases the Commission uses photo
electoral rolls.

Across the world many democracies are


experiencing declining voter turnout and
increasing apathy to vote amongst specific into greater participation. Question arose as to
groups of people. In the last 2009 Lok Sabha how to improve or enhance the participation?
elections, 417 million voters turned up to vote. The answer has been found in Voters’
Nowhere else have so many people turned out education. Voter education needed to be
to vote. 717 million were registered as electors given due and strong emphasis with the kind
and 300 million people did not turn out to of seriousness and depth it deserves by the
vote in the last Lok Sabha elections. When election management bodies. Voters’ education
looked at closely, one finds that, in the Indian is not only the correct but also the most
scenario, generally speaking women, youth and appropriate way to improve participation in a
urban electors have less than overwhelming democracy compared to any other alternative.
participation in elections. Realizing this, several countries in fact have
voters’ education as part of their constitutional
Experience showed that even greater mandate.
awareness does not necessarily get converted
The theme chosen for the Diamond Jubilee
Year of the ECI in 2010 was ‘Greater
Participation for a Stronger Democracy’.
ECI realized that it needed to tread the
last mile, where issues like healthy and
complete electoral rolls, urban apathy,
women’s participation deficit and youth
indifference to the electoral process were to
be tackled. Participation based on voluntary
inclination/ motivation of the individual voters
and persuasion by election management
machinery, rather than compulsory voting
needed to be encouraged. For this to happen,
1
Total electorate for LokSabha election 2014
5

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

voter education held the key. The Commission Renewed emphasis was given to national
thus decided to bring Voter education to the and international consultations to learn
centre table of election management and from best practices and to bring in electoral
allocated it necessary priority and resources. reforms. To promote research and knowledge
creation, internship programme has been
Moreover, Promoting electoral democracy and initiated. Capacity building was given priority
safeguarding popular self-rule in a country of by imparting training to the officials of its
continental dimension is a complex challenge. Secretariat. Citizens were enlightened for
Responding to this, the Election Commission better electoral participation with new ways
of India has brought about many substantive of engaging people through SVEEP. Complaint
as well as procedural improvements in the disposal by its own officers and field machinery
conduct of elections venturing into new areas. has been put under regular monitoring. To
The scope of IT advancement in election monitor and assess the activities of field
management has been widened by launching machinery and Headquarters, monthly MIS
National Electoral Roll Purification and has been initiated so that regular updates on
Authentication Programme (NERPAP) and both election and non-election activities are
by many IT applications. To enable voters to received and adequacy of infra-structure at
identify their preferred candidates, photos the field and Headquarters level are informed.
of candidates have been incorporated in
ballot papers. Procedures were laid down The new initiatives of Election Commission of
for efficient election expenditure and media India have been briefly documented in 8 broad
monitoring during conduct of elections. categories as follows:

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Legal Power to withdraw
registration
Provisions The Commission has recommended that there
should be specific provision in the law for de-
registration and that the Commission should
be authorized to issue appropriate orders
regulating registration and de-registration of
Disqualification upon charge political parties.
sheeting in cognizable
offences
Income Tax Exemption
The Commission has proposed that persons
charged with serious offences should be Furthermore, the Commission has also
de-barred from contesting in the elections proposed that Income Tax exemption should
at the stage when the charges are framed by be available only to political parties that
the competent court provided the offence is contest elections and win seat(s) in the
punishable by imprisonment of at least 5 years, Parliament or Legislative Assemblies. This was
and the case is filed at least 6 months prior to proposed in order to prevent proliferation of
the election in question. non-serious parties who may seek registration
only to avail income tax benefits.
The Law Commission, in their 244th
Report, has suggested a middle- path that
disqualification may be triggered after one Ceiling on Campaign
year from the stage of framing of charges.
Expenditure by Political
Parties
Paid News There should be a limit on the ceiling of
election expenditure by political parties in
The Commission is of the view that ‘paid news’ Assembly and Parliamentary elections, in
vitiates free and fair elections and proposes order to maintain a level playing field and
that the publishing and abetting the publishing control the use of money power in elections.
of ‘paid news’ furthering the election prospects This ceiling should not exceed the expenditure
of any candidate or prejudicially affecting ceiling specified for individual candidates,
the prospects of a candidate, should be an multiplied by the number of candidates of
electoral offence under Chapter III Part VII of that party, contesting elections. Furthermore,
The Representation of the People Act, 1951 the Commission has also suggested that the
with exemplary punishment of a minimum of amount of financial assistance given by a
two years imprisonment. political party to any of its candidates should
not exceed the limit prescribed under Section
77(3) of the RP Act, 1951.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Amendment to Section 126 to take appropriate action including


The Commission has proposed that print countermanding of election in the event of
media be brought within the ambit of section widespread incidents of bribery of electors
126 of the RP Act, which prohibits any in a constituency, if in the opinion of the
electioneering activities by way of public Commission such incidents are likely to vitiate
meetings, public performance, processions, the election.
advertisements through cinematograph,
television or similar apparatus during the
period of 48 hours before the conclusion of Ban on Government
poll. The exclusion of print media is a lacuna Sponsored Advertisement
in the law which must be addressed. The
Commission is also considering ways in which
before Elections
all media may be regulated equally during the The Commission has proposed that
last 48 hours before close of poll, in order to advertisements of achievements of the
preserve an atmosphere of neutrality in which governments, either Central or State, should
electors can reflect before exercising their be prohibited for a period of six months prior
franchise. to the date of expiry of the term of the House.

Making Bribery a Cognizable Ban on Transfer of officers


Offence and Countermanding connected with elections
Elections on Ground of The proposal made by the Commission is
that Section 13CC of the Representation of
Bribery the People Act, 1950 and Section 28A of the
The Commission has recommended that Representation ofthe People Act, 1951 should
bribery in connection with elections be made be amended to provide a ban on the transfer
a cognizable offence with a minimum of 2 of officers referred to in these sections during
years imprisonment for effective deterrence. a period of 6 months before the expiry of the
In cases following large-scale instances of term of the House.
bribing of electors by candidates and workers
of political parties, the Commission, has used
its plenary powers in a few cases under Article Punishment for false
324 to cancel the election. declaration in the Affidavit by
The Commission proposed that instead of
candidates
having to resort to invoking the residual The Commission has proposed that the
powers under Article 324, there should be punishment under section 125A for filing
a provision in the Representation of the false affidavit should be increased to 2 years’
People Act, 1951 enabling the Commission imprisonment (from 6 months at present)

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without the alternative clause of fine, and also Amendment of Election
that the offence should be included in the list Symbols (Reservation and
of offences listed in sub-section (1) of section
8 which would attract disqualification on
Allotment)
conviction irrespective of the term of sentence. ECI in exercising the powers conferred upon
it by Article 324 of the Constitution of India,
read with Rules 5 and 10 of the Conduct of
Photograph of Candidates on Elections Rules, 1961, amended the Election
Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order
Ballot Paper 1968. Prior to the amendment of para 10-B,
Right from the first elections in 1951- the facility of a common symbol was available
52, election symbols have been in vogue to the registered (unrecognized) parties
in elections to the Lower Houses both at subject to the condition that the party has
the central (Federal) level and at the State to set up candidates at least in 10% of the
(Provincial) level which are held from Parliamentary/Assembly Constituencies
territorial constituencies with the general (subject to a minimum 5 assembly
citizens enrolled in the electoral rolls being constituencies in States having 40 or less seats
the electors. The election symbols serve to or minimum two parliamentary constituencies)
facilitate identification of candidates by the in the States.
electors.
The concession of allotment of a common
The Commission observed that there are many symbol to the candidates of registered
cases where candidates with same or identical (unrecognized) parties under this para was
names contests from the same constituency. available as a one-time facility at a General
This can be confusing for the electors not election to either the House of the People,
withstanding the fact that the candidates or to a State Legislative Assembly. The main
would have different election symbols. It is also amendments that have been made to the para
not unusual for persons with names similar to 10-B of the Symbols Order is as under:-
names of the leading candidates to enter the
election fray to create some confusion.  The facility of a common symbol shall be
available to registered (unrecognized) parties
To deal with such cases, the Commission subject to the condition that the party sets
decided to add the photograph of candidates up candidates at least in five percent of the
also on the ballot. Now, with this decision, assembly constituencies (subject to a minimum
photograph is also printed along with the name of three assembly constituencies in States
of the candidate both on the ballot displayed having 40 or less seats) or minimum two
on the voting machine as well as on the postal parliamentary constituencies in the State in
ballot papers. This has been made applicable in which it seeks allotment of a common symbol.
elections to both the Upper and Lower Houses
of Parliament and State Legislatures in 2015.  The concession of allotment of a common
symbol to the candidates of a registered
unrecognized party under this paragraph

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

shall be available to a party at any two principle, the Commission provided for ‘None
general elections to the House of the of the Above’ option on the ballot,which
People, or any two general elections to a appears at the end of the ballot after the
State Legislative Assembly or at one general names of all the candidates. In 2015 the
election to the House of the People and Commission specified a symbol to be printed
the other at a general election to a State against the ` None of the Above’ option.
Legislative Assembly, as the party may choose.

A party that has availed of this concession Prevention of “Tasmanian


on two occasions shall, however, be eligible
for the concession in any subsequent general
Dodge” in Legislative
election subject to the condition that on the Council elections
previous occasion when the party availed Tasmanian Dodge is the term used for the
of the facility, the votes polled by all the fraud in the elections to State Legislative
contesting candidates set up by the party at Councils when some voters steal in fake ballot
the general election in the State concerned papers (blank papers of the same colour as
was not less than one percent of the total valid the original ballot papers). After receiving
votes polled in that State. the original ballot papers from the Presiding
Officer/Polling Officer and marking them
at the voting compartment, they steal these
Symbol for ‘None Of voted original ballot papers out of the polling
station after putting the blank papers into the
The Above’ ballot box.
In any election, there would be cases where
an elector is not enthused by any of the The original ballot papers taken out of the
candidates on the panel and does not wish polling station are liable to be misused again.
to vote for any. In such cases, an elector who In order to prevent this, the Commission had
does not want to passively stay away from the issued instructions in the biennial elections
voting process but is responsible and wants to to the Legislative Councils of Karnataka,
positively exercise his decision of not voting Maharashtra and Telangana held in 2015
for any candidate should have the facility to ensure that the distinguish mark of the
of exercising his option in secrecy. On this Presiding Officer and his signature be affixed
on the ballot papers at a pre-decided space
and remain visible after the ballot paper
was folded. It was also instructed that after
voting, before the ballot paper is inserted
into the ballot box, the voter is asked to show
the distinguishing mark and signature of the
Presiding Officer on the folded ballot paper to
the Polling Officer in charge of the ballot box,
to prevent any chance of fraud.

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Electoral Roll NERP 2016 drive
During this drive with the objective to improve
enrolment of voters and remove multiple
entries and data errors by the effective use
of technology, requisite facilitations and
National Electoral laid down procedures; repeated images
Roll Purification and were corrected, missing photographs were
collected, and low-quality images were
Authentication Programme replaced by good, clear photographs. The gaps
(NERPAP) of Summary Revision 2016 were covered to
NERPAP was launched on 3rd March, the extent possible.
2015 with the main objective of building a
completely error-free and authenticated
electoral roll. The objectives include: Unified National Photo
Linking and authentication of EPIC data
Electoral Roll (UNPER):
of the electors with the Aadhaar data of the It is a combination of Personal demographical
UIDAI. Fetching the Aadhaar number is not information and a photograph of Elector. It
mandatory but optional. consists of unique records of electors for all
over nation and provides a mechanism to
Removal of multiple and repeated entries remove multiple entries by braining it to the
by a Voluntary Disclosure Scheme wherein the knowledge of appropriate authority. Personal
electors on their own will disclose such entries Information consist of information like First
pertaining to themselves. There will not be any Name, Last Name, Age, Gender, Date of
penal actions against them. Birth, Relation Type, Relation Name, Mobile
Number, Email ID, Elector ID, EPIC Number,
Corrections of errors and the improvement House Name, House Number IN UNPER,
of image quality, wherever requested so by the Elector Name and Relative Name having five
electors. vernacular languages for printing of electoral
roll in different languages according to each
Enrichment of the Electoral Roll database assembly constituency. In UNPER, Address
with the mobile number and email address of has two categories 1. Permanent Address 2.
the Electors have been provided the facility Current Address Demographical information
to feed their respective Aadhaar number
through SMS, email, mobile application and
National Voters’ Services Portal (NVSP),
using web services through the ECI website.
Electors can also feed their Aadhaar number
by calling State call centers or by submitting
the details of their Aadhaar and EPIC numbers
in appropriate form (offline), along with the
relevant documents.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

contain basically control table information, the same was corrected. Appropriate Forms
UNPER consist of demographic information (Forms 6, 7, 8, 8A as the case may be) can
of elector like State Name, District Name, be submitted to the Electoral Registration
Assembly Constituency, Polling Station Name, Officer, at the designated location during
Section Details etc. the period for filing claims and objections.

 The users can check their name in the draft


Special Summary Revision electoral roll, displayed on the website of
CEO, designated location and the office
(SSR) 2017 of ERO from the date of draft publication
Election Commission of India ordered special of the electoral roll. Adequate publicity
summary revision (SSR) of Photo Electoral given to the summary revision programme
Rolls with reference to 01.01.2017 as the so as to ensure greater participation of all
qualifying date. Final publication of electoral concerned.
rolls was done in the month of January, 2017.
Following are its features:  During revision period, transfers/postings
of officials engaged in roll revision work
 The citizens see the schedule of SSR in during the period of revision banned,
their State on NVSP portal of the Election subject to exception.
Commission (http://eci.nic.in) or on website
of Chief Electoral Officer of the State.  Process of current round of revision
overseen by the Roll Observers, who are
 During the revision, all the persons, eligible in the rank of Divisional Commissioners/
but not enrolled, get their names enrolled in Super time Scale IAS Officers in the State.
the electoral roll. If there is any discrepancy
in the entries in respect of elector’s details,  Wide publicity and involvement of special

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groups of stakeholders such as youth, collection of Electoral Information by
female electors, representatives from the Booth Level Officers (BLOs) through
civil society organizations, particularly house to house visits following ‘Part Area
who take up the case of electors, persons Saturation Approach’ with thrust on
with Disability (PwD) and women enrolment of every eligible citizen.
empowerment, in the process of revision
ensured. The objectives of the Special Drive were as
under:

Special Drive during Special  To maximize registration of eligible


Summary Revision, 2018 electors.
through house to house visit
 To remove entries of dead and permanently
by BLOs shifted electors.
 In order to maximize registration,
improving the fidelity of electoral rolls  To correct errors in elector’s details in all
and to provide better electoral services, a languages of ERs.
Special Drive has been conducted during
the Special Summary Revision, 2018 for  Obtaining family details/contact details/
improvement of health of electoral rolls GIS coordinates (with Smart Phone) to
and enrolment of all eligible citizens by provide better Electoral Services

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Information 2015 to provide single window services to


electors. NVSP is available on the ECI website

Technology
www.eci.nic.in and http://nvsp.in/. Users can click
on the NVSP link for the following range of
services:

The use of IT application is an integral part  Search their name in the Electoral List
of election process for planning, monitoring
and conduct of Elections. ECI endeavours to  Apply online in English/Hindi for new
create and implement suitable IT applications registration
to enhance the speed and quality of Election
Processes with the use of cloud technology,  Apply online for corrections, if any
newer and simpler interfaces and strong data
bases. ECI operates numerous dynamic portals  View details of their polling booth,
for various stakeholders- EROs, ECI officers, Assembly Constituency and Parliamentary
election observers, EVM managers, Presiding Constituency
Officers, media and the people of this country.
Through proper implementation of IT,  Find the contact details of BLOs, EROs and
interface with citizen and other Stake holders other election officers
has been increasing effectively with time.
 Feed their Aadhaar Number to link it with
their EPIC data
National Voters’ Services
 Get a link to the websites of the offices of
Portal CEOs
In keeping with the ECI’s endeavour to provide
all possible support services to electors with  View instructive short audio-visual films
the help of IT tools, it launched the National about electoral processes as well as EVMs
Voters’ Service Portal (NVSP) on January 25,

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EVM Tracking System
EVM Tracking entry application is developed
for creating a centralized database for CU and
BU’s distributed across 36 states and UTs of
India.

It allows Tracking of Control Unit and Ballot


Unit and their location. This application
has the facility to create and enter the
warehouse details and stock entry of CU and  Matdata (Voter)– Matdata App was used
BU. Transfer of CU and BU once entered will for Voters’ facilitation. Any citizen can
not require re-entry of data. It also keeps the search details of enrollment in Electoral
check of duplicate entry of CU and BU in all Roll through EPIC Number or through
the warehouses across the country. Various Name by downloading the app on his/her
Status messages for the CU and BU are being mobile. S/he can also locate his/her Polling
provided. Transfer of machines at the State Station on Google Map. Further, all nearby
level, District level and the warehouse level Polling Stations near the location of the
can be initiated by the authorized personnel. citizen can be seen on the GPS enabled
Supply orders are generated for each transfer; mobile.
the source and destination entities can access
the order and proceed with the operation.  Matdaan (Polling) – Matdaan App was
used for Poll Day Monitoring to track poll
All the officials assisting in this purpose events like Polling Parties reached (yes/no),
must adhere to the process to accomplish Votes Cast, Images of incidence etc. This
successful transfer of both CUs and BUs. For application has the feature of using it offline
the purpose of elections, the CUs and BUs in case of non-connectivity of network. All
sent to the polling stations are randomized at data captured offline is synchronized with
two different levels – Warehouse (STRONG the centralized server as soon as the person
ROOM) level and Warehouse (STRONG using the app comes in the coverage area.
ROOM AC). The machines which are working Through this app, we can find out voter
and successfully passed at both the first level turnout gender-wise, age-wise and section-
and second level checks will be sent to the wise. Improvement of quality of image in
polling stations the roll can also be done through this app as
we get the recent colour photograph of the
voter against old / bad quality photograph
in the roll.
Mobile Apps
Numerous mobile apps are available for the  Samadhan (Grievance Redress) – This
use of officers, political parties and citizens. application provided the people /political
Officers can use them in conduct of elections. party to lodge their complaints on the
Citizens can use them for easy access to polling common platform for all complaints
stations. They are as follows: received from all sources. Mobile app was

15

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 15 01-08-2018 19:41:29


Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

available for the people so that that the chance of rejecting an


they could submit complaints application was minimal. At the
with photographs / videos on time of applying the mobile number
the common platform. SMS of the applicant was mandatorily
is sent to complainant on collected and email was collected
receipt / disposal of complaint. on an optional basis. As soon as
Complainant can track status the application was accepted
and view ATR online through the an SMS acknowledgement was
android App. sent to the applicant giving the
application number, date and time
 Suvidha (Single Window of receipt. The application number
Clearance)– As part of election can be used to track the status
campaign, the political parties on the website. Permission was
and candidates are required to mandated to be given within 24 hours
obtain permissions for meetings, rallies, in each case.
vehicles, loudspeakers, temporary party
office, helipad and helicopter landing  Sugam (Vehicle Management) – This
etc. The previous system for granting application was used for management
permission was based of vehicles in the election right from the
on traditional manual requisition of vehicles to its payment /
processing which involved release. The app was used for issuance of
obtaining consent from requisition letters for vehicles, capturing
various authorities. This vehicle details with address, mobile number
was time consuming and and bank details of Owner & Driver,
non-transparent. In the Generation of log book, transfer of vehicles
earlier Single Window from one district to another district,
System there was no system generation of payment calculation chart
of proper monitoring, and release order.
which lead to complaints
of delay and bias in grant of Information about payment to vehicle
permissions. This, at time, owners was also sent through automated
lead to allegations against the SMS. The mobile app was useful for the
election related officers. vehicle owner to lodge any complaint
regarding payment as well as for verifying
The ‘Suvidha’ software provided for vehicle movement during election.
standard forms for applying for different
permissions. It also provided a checklist  ELECON – The ELECON application
showing the mandatory and optional was used for creating database of
documents required for different Police /Polling personnel, generation of
permissions. This made the task of person command / appointment letters, sending
applying and accepting the application SMS regarding deputation / training,
simple and transparent. This also ensured tagging of patrolling party with force,

16

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 16 01-08-2018 19:41:29


generation of application for postal ballot, and migration; details of Polling stations
formation of polling party / police party and how to reach there and to get Voter
after randomization, for sending polling Slip with key map to reach the Polling
personnel / police force from one district to Station.
another district etc.
E-Netra – (Election- Novel Electronic
 E-Counting – Use of online E-Counting Tracking & Rapid Action)
software for uploading table wise/ Unified multimodal GIS enabled web based
candidate-wise votes polled from the system deployed for monitoring of the
counting hall was made. From android app election expenditure and enforcement of
in the mobile phone one can view the trend the Model Code of Conduct by Political
of counting / result. Parties and Candidates, for use by citizens
and the election officers on unified web
 EASY – (Electoral Assistance System)-A portal, through Mobile App and SMS
web enabled service to all electors gateway, for informing/ capturing the
including on mobile App and SMS to know violations, to take time bound effective
all information about Electoral Rolls, action and sharing the outcome there of
Election officers and to apply in Electoral with the stakeholders.
Rolls for inclusion, deletion, modification

Apart from the new application, existing major dynamic portals are as follows:

Application Stakeholder

National Electoral Roll Management System For the Electoral registration machinery
(ERMS)

Election Management Dashboard For Managing election by ECI officers/ CEOs

Observer Portal To place feedback to ECI by observers

EVM tracking and management EVM management by ECI, CEOs and DEOs

SMS based Poll day monitoring System To place feedback by Presiding Officers/Sector
Officers

Web casting For monitoring the polling by ECI & CEOs

Dissemination of Trends and Results For media and general public from the counting
centres

17

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 17 01-08-2018 19:41:29


Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Dynamic Portals:  Monitor Candidate expenses exceed ceiling


amount or not
 Election Observer Management
This portal is used for purpose of monitoring  EEMS Dashboard with graphs, charts and
and sending messages and SMS to the MIS analysis reports
observers that are deployed in various states
by the ECI officers.  Election Monitoring Dashboard
This is the IT Tool which provides a dashboard
Salient Features : of consolidated information, tools and
timely reports to officers engaged in election
 View Filled Reports, uploaded and Poll Day monitoring process at all hierarchical level
Related Reports by Observers from top to bottom. This is essential since
many processes and cycles continue to
 Send messages/SMS to Observers function during elections. The major activities
can be broadly categorized as
 Review Filled Reports
 Pre-poll
 They can view the Filled Reports, Uploaded
files for Past election.  Poll day

 View State wise finalised list  Post-Poll

 Candidate Details - Form 7A  Trends and Result

Online monitoring and tracking system for  Consolidation (and post poll statistical
election expenditure accounts lodged by the analysis)
candidates during elections to check for its
correctness. The system helps in the scrutiny Presently from National level down to
of the accounts submitted as per the defects district level information proliferation
found. and consolidation is managed within the
dashboard. In future it will be taken down to
Salient Features: poll booth level for completeness. The views
are presented through Tabular, Graphical
 Monitor Candidate total expenses and on Geographical Maps, to present exact,
thematic, observance and drill down reporting
 Monitor Funds given by political party to to help the process of decision making faster.
the candidate
 Trends & Results Declaration
 Monitor Funds given by others to the For trends and results dissemination during
candidate and after counting an application has been
provided at all the counting centers on
 Monitor Expense understated or not counting day. In this application round wise

18

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 18 01-08-2018 19:41:30


schedule data, round wise votes polled against transparency in the voting process, is done.
each candidate for all rounds, postal ballot Further, during the election process, CCTV
votes polled against each candidate are monitoring and webcasting was also done at
entered and time to time trends and results various border check-posts, check-nakas, and
are declared through numbers, bar charts and other sensitive and critical locations across
pie charts ( for graphical view ). Various report the constituencies to keep a strict vigil on
are provided for monitoring progress of data any nefarious activities aimed at vitiating the
entry at DEO/CEO level. electoral process.

Round wise data collected from counting


centers through IT application is staged in a Polling/ Police Personnel
database from where static html pages are
generated to disseminate trends and results
Deployment Plan
through website. This application was used for creating database
of Police and polling personnel, generation of
command and appointment letters, sending
Use of Webcasting/ CCTV at SMS regarding deputation/training, tagging
of patrolling party with force, generation of
Polling Station application for Postal Ballot, formation of
Webcasting at selected distant polling stations polling party/Police party after randomization,
for live monitoring of the election process, and for sending polling personnel/police force
in order to keep a check on illegal activities from one district to another district.
such as booth capturing, money distribution
and bogus voting and to bring about complete
Voter-centric Information
Dissemination Initiatives
It is the constant endeavour of the Commission
to facilitate voters across the country in
accessing multifarious election related
services and information. As part of this vision,
an SMS-based search facility and a voter-
friendly interactive website have already been
launched and are working successfully.

Helpline Management
System, Web and SMS based
Search Facilities
A toll free helpline number 1800-11-1950
launched for direct interface with the people.

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ECI Initiatives-7.indd 19 01-08-2018 19:41:30


Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Voters search facility has made available on received through calls, emails, sms and
each CEO’s website. Also, one can download website access in an integrated and time-
the mobile app ‘Electoral Search’, either from bound manner. Callers may connect with the
the website or from Google play store, to executives to register a complaint and know
search one’s name in the voters’ list and/or about its status of receipt and disposal as well
to know one’s polling station and/or to print as to give suggestions and feedback at every
the voter information. Apart from these, step of the way.
arrangements of CCTV at strong room and its
display outside for monitoring purposes by
political parties were also taken up. ERO Net
ERO-Net brings in seamless processing of
National Contact Centre forms, easy handling of the databases, regular
and simpler way of monitoring the ERs
National Contact Centre (NCC) was launched activities and maintaining the ERs health. The
on 1st May, 2017. The NCC will enable the inclusion, shifting/ transposition, modification
Election Commission to communicate with or deletion in the electoral roll is done by
members of the public more effectively and submitting ER forms. Applications can be filed
that too, by the use of wider array of contact online through portal, Mobile Application,
channels. The use of Computer Telephony SMS, National Contact Centre (NCC) or by
Integration technology will enable a computer submitting the filled-in forms to ERO (Electoral
to control a telephone i.e. the staff of contact Registration Officer)/ AERO (Assistant
centre can easily make calls without even Electoral Registration Officer)/ BLO (Booth
touching an actual telephone. Level Officer) of his or her constituency in
paper or through electronic submission using
The Commission has added another feather NVSP (National Voter Service Portal).
to its cap with the setup of National Contact
Centre and a toll-free No. 1800-11-1950. Now
any citizen from any part of the country can BLO Net
call on the toll-free in English or Hindi with any
query or complaint at any time of the day. Callers BLO Net mobile application was launched
can enquire on subjects such as elections, voting to facilitate Booth Level Officers to feed the
dates, EPIC, electoral roll, online registration details of Special drive conducted to clean the
and lodge a complaint by simply dialling in to the Electoral Roll, with the major objectives listed
toll free no. Not only this, executives also make below:
outbound calls for educating the electors and
spreading voter awareness.  Maximization of registration of eligible
voter.
The Integrated Contact Centre is operated
on a National Grievance Redress System  Improve fidelity of ER
Software. This software is a single window • Correcting the errors in ERs Remove
platform to manage complaints and feedback Dead and Permanently Sifted Electors

20

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 20 01-08-2018 19:41:30


Candidate Nomination &
Affidavits (Genesys)
This application is provided to CEO/
DEO/RO AC staff of poll going states
for uploading/, updating information
such as candidate’s detail, details of
electors & Polling stations in A02/A01/
D03/P02/P01/P03/Epic Coverage
etc. formats. Various reports for
monitoring progress of data entry
at DEO/CEO level are also available.
Password resetting options in
hierarchy for example, resetting it for
RO AC user is available with DEO level
and that for DEO/PC user is available
at CEO level) has been made available
for handling issues arising out of
transfers of officials.

• Identify probable and existing Overseas Electronically Transmitted


electors living abroad
• Systematic and Quality BLO field
Postal Ballot System (ETPBS)
verification of Forms received during SSR for Service Voters
2018. ETPBS was developed by Election
Commission of India with the help of Centre
 Obtaining information about Polling for Development of Advanced Computing
Stations (PS) (C-DAC), for the use of the Service Voters.
• Mapping of Assured Minimum Facilities
(AMF) Status It is a fully secured system, having two layers
• Voters Observations on existing PS of security. Secrecy is maintained through
• Identifying and Mapping Alternate the use of OTP and PIN and no duplication
Building(s) suitable for Polling Station. of casted Electronically Transmitted Postal
• Post Office Details for the Part Ballot (ETPB) is possible due to the unique QR
• Obtain Family details/ contact details & Code. This system enables the entitled service
(GIS Coordinates (With Smart Phone)) to voters to cast their vote using an electronically
provide better Electoral Services received postal ballot from anywhere outside
their constituency. The voters who make
such a choice will be entitled for Postal Ballot
delivered through Electronic Media for a
particular election.

21

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

May 2018
Chief Information Security OfÞcer

Release Of
ECI CYBER BULLETIN
unlawful campaign
Cyber Security activities within minutes
Regulations
Election Commission of India
of having witnessed them
and without having to
Cyber Security
In view of the growing Panel Discussions rush to the office of the
A Cyber Security panel
threats to information discussions were conducted
on 17 Jan 2018 for Cyber
Returning Officer. cVIGIL
Security Nodal OfÞcer (s) and
system and serious various senior ofÞcials of the
ECI with a view to sensitize
is user-friendly and easy
them about various threats to
cyber security breaches, information security and their
mitigation strategies.
to operate and all that
formalization of a Cyber Appointment of one has to do is simply
CISO Cyber Security
Security Regulation Regulations
In order to strengthen cyber click a picture or a video,
security posture of the ECI, a have affected how
Digital technologies and the internet
(CSR) was envisaged. The Chief Information Security
OfÞcer has been appointed by elections are conducted, including
ng
online voter registration.
cyber security have also
describe the activity and
the Commission on 19 Dec At the same time issues concerni
about, cyber meddling in
CSR envisages mitigating 2017 to overlook the Cyber
Security Strengthening.
emerged. Allegations of, and fears
election systems undermin e conÞden ce in the democratic upload it through mobile
in voting.
process and threaten citizens' trust
Cyber Security
cyber security risks to Workshops Protection and deterrence are necessary
and reassuring voters
of election cyber security
application. After that, it
of the importance and effectiveness
system & applications A cyber security workshop was
conducted on 17th Jan & 17
policies is also critical. Achieving these
local, national, and international actions
objectives requires
to strengthen cyber is just a matter of minutes
Mar 2018 for all ofÞcials of elevate election integrity in
security in election systems and to
of ECI and CEO ECI, consultants, outsourced
staff & programmers of the ECI
cyber security policies and monitori ng.
before flying squads
and representatives (Cyber Cyber Security Regulations of ECI…Pag
e-2

through procedural and Security Nodal OfÞcers, State


Informatics OfÞcers from NIC
zoom in on the culprits to
and other IT resource of

technological safeguards. various States and Union


Territories.
catch them red-handed.
After wide consultation ECI Cyber Bulletin
Issue No .1
1

with both internal (Chief The application connects


Electoral Officers & the vigilant citizen with District Control
Election Commission of India officials) and Room, Returning Officer and Field Verification
external stakeholders (Computer Emergency Unit (Flying Squads / Static Surveillance
Response Team-India, National Critical Teams) thereby, creating a rapid and accurate
Information Infrastructure Protection Centre, reporting, action and monitoring system.
National Cyber Security Coordinator), the
CSR was approved by the commission on 6th
February, 2018. This first ever Cyber Security
Regulations (formal regulation to guide safe
exploitation of cyberspace for election related
activities) of the Election Commission of India
was released by the Commission during Cyber
Security Workshop on March 17, 2018.

cVigil
On July 3, 2018, on the occasion of the
inaugural programme of Election Commission
of India’s National Consultation on Accessible
Elections, IT division of the ECI launched
cVigil - a simple, android based mobile app
through which citizens can promptly report

22

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 22 01-08-2018 19:41:32


Election vote-buying was hugely successful. However, it
also created difficulty for common people with

Expenditure
genuine need for carrying cash. A need was
felt to streamline the procedure of seizure as

Policy
well as expeditious release of explained cash.
To address this, an appeal mechanism was put
in place in every district by modifying the SOP.
The Committee suo motu examined each case
Comprehensive instructions for the purpose of of seizure made by the Police or Flying Squad
effective monitoring of the election expenditure or Static teams and also heard appeals from the
of the candidates have been issued, which public. In all cases where the cash could not be
include the formation of Flying Squads, Static linked with any candidate or any political party
Surveillance Teams, Video Surveillance Teams or any election campaign, immediate steps were
and the involvement of the Investigation taken by the committee to release the same.
Directorates of the Income Tax Department.
The State Excise Departments and Police
authorities have been asked to monitor the Expenditure Monitoring
production, distribution, sale and storage of
liquor and other intoxicants during the election
System
process. The functioning and operations of the Online monitoring and tracking system for
Flying Squads/Mobile Teams shall be closely election expenditure accounts lodged by the
monitored using GPS tracking. For greater candidates during elections to check for its
transparency and ease of monitoring election correctness. The system helps in the scrutiny
expenses, candidates would be required to open of the accounts submitted as per the defects
a separate bank account and incur their election found. Following are the salient features:
expenses only from it. The Investigation
Directorate of the Income Tax Department  Monitor Candidate total expenses
has been asked to open Air Intelligence unit in
the airports of these States and also to gather  Monitor Funds given by political party to
intelligence and take necessary action against the candidate
the movement of large sums of money in these
States. Some new initiatives taken by the  Monitor Funds given by others to the
Commission to strengthen the expenditure candidate
monitoring mechanism are:
 Monitor Expense understated or not

Modification of the Standard  Monitor Candidate expenses exceed ceiling


amount or not
Operating Procedure for
Seizure and release of cash  EEMS Dashboard with graphs, charts and
The strict vigil on movement of cash during the MIS analysis reports
election period for curbing use of illegal cash for

23

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

in SMS form to the closest FS in the area for


necessary action. The position of the team can
be tracked through their mobile phones and
their response time can be monitored

Account Reconciliation
Meeting
It was experienced that all the disputes
relating to Election Expenditure accounts of
the candidates were getting carried to the
level of the Commission, as all the differences
in expenditure come to the notice only after
submission of accounts by the candidates. This
Leveraging technology in has resulted in unnecessary delay in disposal of
such cases.
expenditure monitoring -
Flying Squads Accordingly, the process of lodging of accounts
Flying Squads (FS) have to respond to by candidates was modified by providing
complaints regarding distribution of cash, for a reconciliation meeting before final
liquor and other such inducement to voters submission of the accounts, on the 26th day
during the elections. A Control Room is set of the declaration of the results. The modified
up in every constituency to monitor and pass guideline also allowed a candidate to submit
on these complaints same to the nearest revised accounts, if he has already filed the
FS. It was witnessed that there was a time same before the reconciliation meeting. This
lag between receiving the complaints and new procedure has resulted in significant
action taken. The FS would often cite prior improvement in lodging of accounts.
engagement with complaints received or lack
of geographical proximity to the area to be
reached. Ethical Voting Campaign
Hence to streamline the process, it was
by Booth Level Awareness
decided to use Information Technology Groups (BAGs)
Enabled Services (ITES) in Tamil Nadu during Under the Electoral Roll Purification
the recent elections. Under this initiative, programme undertaken by the Commission,
every FS is mapped on to specific zones Booth Level Awareness Groups (BAGs) had
within the constituencies and their unique been formed in the month of March 2015.
phone numbers are linked to software which It was decided that the BAGs should also be
connects the Control Room and the FS. The entrusted with the work of undertaking Ethical
Control Room receives phone calls, SMSs and Voting Campaign in the locality.
e-mails and the software forwards the same

24

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 24 01-08-2018 19:41:33


The BAG members were drawn from the Accounting of expenditure
para workers, representatives of local bodies, incurred for campaign
CSO, NGOs, Schools and Colleges. They
appealed to the voters to abstain from
vehicles on the basis of
inducements by speaking on ethical voting. permissions granted
They also made the voters aware about the It came to the notice of the Commission that
legal provisions against vote buying. Android the candidates take permission from the RO
based software was made available on the for use of vehicles for campaign purpose, but
ECI website which could be used by the BAG some candidates do not show the vehicle
members and members of public to upload hiring charges or fuel expenses in their election
photograph of alleged vote-buying activity. expenditure account. Therefore, it was decided
that unless the candidate intimates the RO
for withdrawing the permission, the notional
expenditure on account of campaign vehicles
is to be calculated based on the number of
vehicles for which permissions is granted
by the RO.

Filing of part statement of


Election Expenditure by
Political Parties in 30 days
From past experience it was seen that
sometimes the funding from political parties
Donations received by shown by candidates did not tally with the
candidates - to be in cheques corresponding amount shown by the political
or drafts parties. Accordingly, new instruction was
issued and the political parties were required
It came to the notice of the Commission that to file part expenditure statement in respect of
the candidates are raising large amounts of the lump sum payments made to the candidate,
donations or loans in cash during the election within 30 days after declaration of results.
process. In line with the guidelines in respect
of donations received by the political parties,
an instruction was issued on the 6th June 2015
directing that candidates should not receive
any loan or donation exceeding Rs. 20,000/-
in cash and all such donations or loans are
to be received by cheque or draft or through
banking channels only.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Media in their election campaigning. Likewise, their


supporters/workers and other organizations
supporting them also resort to the said method
of carrying out election campaign on their
behalf. Apart from use of normal SMS gateway
Allotment of Broadcast/ through mobile, internet is also linked with the
Telecast time to Political mobile gateways to send SMSs and recorded
Parties messages.

Exercising the powers conferred on it, the This feature may also be sometimes misused
Election Commission of India decided to for sending malicious and vilifying materials
extend the scheme of equitable time sharing in political campaigning and thereby violating
on electronic media through the Prasar Bharti electoral and criminal laws and MCC relating
Corporation to the General Election to the to elections. The Commission has already
Legislative Assembly elections in different issued direction regarding monitoring of such
states. Broadcast and telecast time was bulk SMSs by police authorities and inclusion
allotted to all National parties and recognized of expenditure on such bulk SMSs into election
State parties of the States concerned as per expenditure accounts of the candidates.
their past performance in the last Legislative
Assembly election in the State. These The Commission directed that bulk SMSs/
telecasts/broadcasts on Doordarshan/AIR did voice messages on phone in election
not permit: campaigning shall also be in the purview of
1) criticism of other countries; pre-certification of election advertisements
2) attack on religions or communities; as in case of TV Channels/Cable Network,
3) anything obscene or defamatory; Radio including private FM Channels, Cinema
4) incitement of violence;
5) anything amounting to contempt of court;
6) aspersions against the integrity of the
President and Judiciary;
7) anything affecting the unity, sovereignty
and integrity of the nation;
8) any criticism by name of any person.

Pre-Certification of political
advertisements- Use of bulk
SMSs/voice messages in
political campaigning
The Commission has taken cognizance of the
fact that political parties/ candidates often
use bulk SMSs and recorded voice messages

26

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 26 01-08-2018 19:41:35


Halls, audio-visual displays in public places day & one day prior to poll day, no political
and Social Media. Legal provisions, as apply on advertisement would be published in print
other mode of electronic media, shall also be media without pre-certification of State/
applicable on bulk SMSs/voice messages. district MCMC. Pre certification of political
advertisement proposed to be issued
in electronic media is mandatory as per
Election Related News Commission’s order dated on April 15, 2004,
issued consequent upon the order passed by
Management System the Supreme Court dated April 13, 2004.
Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC)
monitored all election management related
news on the major news channel and regional National Media Award
channels and sent reports on two hourly basis,
since 2015 Bihar, a state of India elections, Voter education helps build an environment
to both the Commission and CEOs office where values of democracy are understood
during poll day and a day prior. Based on the and acted upon by the population. Media
reports received, the respective state CEOs have an important role to play in fostering
took necessary action and filed ATRs to such an environment. For the purpose to
Commission within two hours. The reports motivate all media houses to come forward for
sent by the state CEOs was carefully analysed making awareness to improve participation
and assessed and further necessary action of all sections of the electorate, ECI started
was taken by respective DEOs/CEOs. This giving award to Media Houses from the year
ensured quick response of election machinery 2013 (for 2012) for best campaign on Voters’
to ensure smooth election process and also to Education and Awareness in the following four
keep people informed of the real situation and categories:
correct any misinformation. (a) Print Media (b) Television (c) Radio
(d) Online (internet) media

Pre-certification of political This award is given every year on the occasion


of National Voters’ Day (January 25).
advertisements in print media
on the day of poll & one day
prior to poll
To avoid instances of advertisements of
offending, misleading and malicious nature
in print media in the last stage of poll, the
Election Commission of India, in exercise of its
power under Article 324 of the Constitution,
first time during the last phase of poll in the
general election to state assembly election
of Bihar 2015, issued directions that on poll

27

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Social Media set up a Social Media Cell to professionally


Taking into account the significant influence handle Social Media and disseminate all the
and impact of Social Media, the Election necessary information regarding voters’
Commission of India decided to enhance awareness, pre-certification, MCC, etc.
its interaction and involvement with all Capturing campaign activities in the form
its stakeholders in the electoral processes of audios, videos and photographs are
through the use of Social Media at State as encouraged to be loaded on Social Media
well as at the District level. Chief Electoral platforms and all complaints received on this
Officers and the District Electoral Officers platform are to be responded promptly.
were instructed to activate their official
accounts on various social media platforms
like Facebook, You Tube, etc. for establishing a
more interactive system. The CEOs have also

28

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 28 01-08-2018 19:41:38


Social Media Hub channel, as part of its outreach programme for
ECI aims to engage, empower and educate its public at large.
voters and all other stakeholders and facilitate
them in the voting process through various Being a two-way medium it helps ECI to take
Social Media platforms. Social Media Hub was suggestions from the citizens and also resolve
launched at the International Conference on any complaint at the earliest. Moreover, it
‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the generates awareness among netizens about
Election Process’ on 23rd January, 2018. It initiatives undertaken by the Commission and
comprises of Facebook page and YouTube latest developments.

29

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 29 01-08-2018 19:41:43


Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Systematic As greater awareness does not necessarily


convert into greater participation, behavioural

Voters’ change held the key, a much more complex


task. Therefore, to improve participation

Education
of all section of the electorate, information,
motivation and facilitation is being provided, for
which the responsibility lies with the election

& Electoral managers. Qualitatively and quantitatively


voter participation in India is still short of the

Participation ideal of participatory democracy.

(SVEEP) Common Interventions under


SVEEP
To meet the challenge of eligible and yet  Situation Analysis - The Election
unregistered citizens and not so high voter Commission of India (ECI), as a part
turnout, ECI consciously introduced a of SVEEP, engaged survey agencies in
process of dialogue with citizens. It started the election going States for carrying
reaching out to citizens to understand what out baseline and endline surveys called
was stopping them from registering in the Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour, Belief and
electoral rolls and voting. Certain amounts of Practice (KABBP) surveys before and after
Information, Education and Communication elections, to understand the underlying
(IEC) activities were taken up in 2009 to reasons for under registration, last mile
benefit the voters. This was subsequently problems in updation of Electoral Rolls,
revamped in 2010 as a national programme EPIC off take and low voter turnout and
titled Systematic Voters’ Education and to identify the demographics of elector-
Electoral Participation (SVEEP). segments with lower electoral participation
so that suitable interventions can be
A lot of gaps were observed between what the mounted and their impact assessed.
voters ‘should know’ and what they ‘actually
know’ in important areas like Registration,  Analysis of gaps and reasons- After a
Election Photo Identity Cards (EPIC)/ Identity methodical and organized assessment
proofs, Polling Station location, use of of electoral data along a timeline in a
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), timings detailed Situation Analysis to identify
of the poll, do’s & don’ts with regard to Model gaps in terms of gender, age, urban-rural,
Code of Conduct (MCC), use of money/muscle excluded groups, reasons for low voter
and liquor power, by candidates or their registration and turnout were determined
associates to influence vulnerable sections of and accordingly targeted programmes/
electorate. These gaps exist because voters’ communication interventions were
education had not received the requisite implemented to overcome gaps in these
priority from election managers. areas.

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 Model Polling Stations (MPS)-The concept
of Model Polling Stations (MPS) was to
provide a friendly and pleasant experience
to the voters when they come to the polling
station to cast their vote. In a bid to attract
voters to the polling booths and give a
festive look to the electoral exercise, some
Model Polling Stations were set up in the
country for the first time during LS 2014.

Besides providing Basic Minimum Facilities


(BMFs) like drinking water, shed, toilets,
and ramps at all the polling stations, Model
Polling Stations attempted to give a sense
of festivity to the exercise of voting and also
provided additional comforts like waiting
halls, first aid kits etc.

 Awareness Observers (AOs) - The


concept of election observation by the
domestic observers in India has evolved
over a period of time. While General
Observers, Expenditure Observers and
Police Observers have been appointed in
elections, Central Awareness Observers
were appointed first time for the Assembly of its older partnerships and brought on
Elections in 2013. This was further board some new partners in the course of
strengthened in LS 2014 and effectively implementing SVEEP.
utilised to observe SVEEP preparedness in
the State nearly a month ahead of polls. ECI has forged partnerships with
Government Departments, Media
 Synergy with Partners & Collaborators Houses, Corporates, and Civil Society
Implementation of SVEEP has also been Organsiations. Renowned individuals have
about inspiring its partners, even those also partnered with ECI as ECI emissary or
outside Government, to take on the Icons spreading the message of electoral
challenge of making Indian democracy participation.
more and more inclusive and participatory.
 Sankalp Patras or Pledge Letters - A pledge
ECI recognised the limitations of its letter is issued to the family through the
enforcement style for achieving the school students, who gets it signed by
objectives of higher voter registration their parents and adult family members
and turn out. As a result, it recast some pledging to vote in the upcoming election

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

and also pledging to motivate friends and


neighbours to cast their vote. The pledge
letters carrying the signature of the parent
are submitted back to the school that pass
it on to the district administration. With
the help of the pledge letters the district
administration is able to reach out to a large
number of families ahead of polling.

 Art & Festivals - SVEEP introduced the


social and development agenda into the
conventional election management process. • New songs, plays were written and older
Many voter awareness activities took the more popular songs were creatively
shape of a carnival or Mela (Fair) with music, modified to talk about voting. New Melas
art, creative expression, dance, games, were planned and held and sometimes
laughs, togetherness and lights. While some voter education became part of existing
districts organized carnivals spread over a festivals and Melas.
few days, some organized sporadic events.
• Bands and musical groups of various
• Rangoli is one art form that is popular kinds are found in every district. They are
across India amongst illiterate, literate a very vital part of the Indian weddings
and formally educated people, primarily as they accompany the Baarat or
women. Rangoli was extensively used bridegroom’s procession and provide the
to convey voter education messages. music for celebrations.
The students of fine arts painted voter
education messages on public walls. • Puppet shows based on traditions was
Drawing competitions across the states used extensively to educate voters,
threw up the creative talent that was particularly in markets and fairs in both
later used in posters to spread electoral rural and urban areas.
awareness.
• Music and Rock shows to reach out to
the young. Almost all the states used
the music groups affiliated to the State’s
culture department to reach out to rural
population through folk songs.

• Cricket Match, Mock Poll, Football


Matches, Kabaddi Tournament were
organized to attract and engage people
on the theme of electoral participation
and ethical voting.

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Election Commission of The deployment of men and material
India’s tableau in the Republic on difficult terrain during the electoral
process was depicted on both the side
Day Parade murals. The process of voter education and
A tableau depicting the theme ‘Inclusive awareness, now an integral part of election
and Qualitative Electoral Participation’ management, was also shown through an EVM
represented the mandate and ideals of the familiarization camp.
Election Commission in the Republic Day
parade on January 26, 2016. The front part The tableau also highlighted the officials
of the tableau showcased people in various reaching polling stations in the remotest areas
costumes encapsulating the concept of in adverse conditions to enable people to vote.
diversity among Indian citizens, along with the The ECI’s endeavour to make the electoral
Ashoka Pillar, the National Emblem of India, process accessible, easy, people-friendly and
symbolizing the resolve to promote ethical festive was exhibited in the form of a Model
and informed electoral participation. The Polling Station along with various facilitation
tableau displayed the Election Commission measures such as a ramp for Persons with
of India’s ‘National Voters’ Service Portal’, a Disabilities, a help desk, special assistance for
digital platform to provide e-enabled services the elderly and medical facilities among others.
to voters.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

International Conference subsequently be shared with the Government


on ‘Voter Education for and Legislators.
Inclusive, Informed & Ethical
An online competition was also a part of the
Participation’ initiative to engage with the target population
The Conference was held from 19th -21st and seek their contribution to the cause ‘Every
October 2016 in New Delhi and 25 countries Indian Vote counts’. Categories for entries
and organizations from across all the were Slogan, Essay, Poster, Song, Photograph
continents participated. Rich inputs were and Short Film. A social media campaign
received from the participants through for the survey/competition was launched
their presentations and interactions. The on November 1, 2016 targeting Indian
conference was spread over five technical population in the 11 countries with higher
sessions viz Electoral Literacy in formal Indian population, through Facebook, Twitter,
education; Inclusive Electoral Literacy through YouTube, LinkedIn and Emailers.
informal education channel; Enhancement of
participation by special category of voters’
like defence personnel, Diplomatic mission Roll out of SVEEP-III Project
personnel, Polling personnel and overseas
citizens; ICT(Information, Communication &
(2016- 2020)
Technology) role in voter education’; Informed The SVEEP III Project was launched by the
and Ethical Voting. The New Delhi Declaration Commission on January 25, 2016, National
was adopted by all present at the concluding Voters Day. SVEEP - III project document lays
session of the Conference. down the SVEEP strategy for the next five
years 2016-2020 based on which the annual
action plan of the States/UTs and districts
Online Survey & Competition shall be chalked out. Consultations were held
in 2015 with various stakeholders including
for Overseas Indian Citizens Ministries/CSO/Partner Departments were
Election Commission with Tata Institute of undertaken to chalk out the strategy for the
Social Sciences (TISS) initiated a Knowledge, SVEEP III. The focus has been widened to
Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey for include the following three categories viz
Overseas Indian Citizens to assess their level Service Voters, Overseas Indian citizens and
of awareness about the registration Future Voters (i.e. those in the age-group
and voting process and to also of 15-17 years). Focus on women,
gather opinion about their youth, PwDs, marginalized
voting preferences. The link sections besides urban populace
was made available at www. is further strengthened.
everyvotecounts.in. The survey
shall help not only in identifying
information gaps but also help
ECI in finding the preferred
methods of voting which can

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International Seminar on
‘Strategies for Empowering
Young & Future Voters’
International Seminar on ‘Strategies for
Empowering Young and Future Voters’ was
organized by the Election Commission of India
on January 24, 2017 in collaboration with
UNDP as a part of the National Voters’ Day
celebrations. The Chief Election Commissioner
of India graced the occasion as the Chief
Guest with august participation by Election
Commissioners of India, the heads of Election
Management Bodies, Commissioners and
National Voters’ Fest / members from different EMBs of the world,
Matdaata Mahotsav 2016 heads of International Organizations related
It was organized at Central Park, Connaught to elections and their representatives, senior
Place, from 14th -17th January 2016, as part of functionaries of VoICE.NET besides the other
the NVD ( National Voter’s Day) celebrations. A senior officials of the Election Commission
comprehensive exhibition to take the audience of India. The participating EMBs and the
through the process of election management international organizations presented papers
was part of the fest besides various events to on the theme of the seminar.
engage with the various stakeholders through
seminars, discussions, competitions and The Seminar was marked by signing of MoU’s
cultural shows. Visitors were made to register, of cooperation with the EMBs of Australia,
given voter slips and subsequently given the Bosnia Herzegovina, Fiji and Nepal besides
option to vote in a polling booth on EVM for inaugural launch of the VoICE International,
their favourite stall, thus giving them hands on the quarterly E-Magazine on VoICE.NET
experience of voting. platform.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Interactive School Electoral Literacy Clubs


Engagement (ISE) Programme (ELC)
The Interactive School Engagement (ISE) “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.
programme was the pre-cursor to the ELC Involve me and I learn”. Benjamin Franklin
project. ISE was conceptualized to target
the future voters studying in schools so as to Based on this concept, Electoral Literacy Clubs
sensitize them about the electoral process in (ELCs) are platforms that involve students and
general and about the registration and voting members to impart electoral literacy through
procedure in particular. It was carried out in engaging activities. Focused on prospective
run-up to the National Voters’ Day 2017 which or future voters, especially in the age group
had the theme ‘Empowering Young and Future of 14-17 year, ELCs in schools aim to serve as
Voters’ and the same was the focus of the a sustainable solution to the humongous task
Commission for the year. ISE was also meant of imparting electoral education in a country
to provide a platform to connect future voters of 1.2 billion people. ELCs are proposed
with the election machinery. to be established in over 2 lakh secondary
and higher secondary Schools, 25 thousand
Launched in January 2017, ISE covered 11,800 colleges/universities. In rural communities,
schools and 25,11,594 students in Phase I . Chunav Pathshalas, at the polling station level
In Phase II, conducted in July-August 2017, will target those falling outside the formal
the schools covered were 16,855 across education system. Currently, the project is in
the country with 32,58,080 students being its execution phase.
covered with the collective efforts of electoral
machinery i.e. CEOs, in the States and DEOs, After comprehensive rounds of discussion with
EROs in their respective Districts. Total of key stakeholders, Teaching Resources have
more than 57 lac students in 28 thousand been developed for Class IX, X, XI, XII, and for
schools were covered. Chunav Pathshalas and students of colleges.
These resources are mainly instructions for
the Conveners on how to conduct various

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activities. The activities were field tested and National Elections Quiz
later reviewed in a national consultation with (NEQ) 2018
the stakeholders. Workshops were conducted
for State Level Master Trainers from the 36 As part of ECI’s theme for the year 2017-
states and union territories of the country ‘Empowering Young and Future Electors’,
in four batches of 40-50 participants each, the ECI organized the National Elections
in February-March 2018. Considering the Quiz, a knowledge outreach venture for the
activity based engagement approach that youth (school students of classes IX to XII)
formed the very basis of the ELC project, and on elections and electoral processes. The
the resources developed, the training was Quiz started with the District Round (under
also conducted in a manner that was far from the ambit of the DEOs) followed by the State
the lecture based format. These State Level Round (organized by the CEOs) and the Zonal
Master Trainers will take forward training of and National Finals (conducted by ECI in New
District Level Master Trainers who will then Delhi). Covering themes including- Elections
train the specific ELC conveners. in lndia, History of Democracies and Elections,
Voting Processes, Voter education and literacy,
An independent evaluation of the project has National Voters’ Day to Electoral Technology,
also been directed by the Commission and Model Code of Conduct, ECI collaborated
evaluation shall be simultaneously carried out with Rajya Sabha TV for producing and
so that necessary corrections can be made for broadcasting 7 weekly episodes (6 Semi-Finals
successful achievement of the objectives. Till and the Grand Finale) from the January 25 to
date, 1,26,698 ELCs have been set up in the the March 11, 2018.
entire nation.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

NEQ 2018 witnessed a participation of 13.63 Voters. Those born on January 1, 2000 and
Lakh students from over 38,000 schools popularly termed Millennium babies turn
across the country staking a claim to being eligible to become an elector in the ongoing
the World’s Largest Quiz on Elections. Each Summary Revision of the Roll. 1.1.2018. These
episode broadcast on RSTV also had an electors were termed Millennium Voters.
Audience Question to promote engagement
with the viewers and first 50 respondents Around 74 thousand children are born every
received merchandise as prizes for each day. While encouraging the millennium
episode. individuals the campaign aimed to also attract
others who are eligible to become electors
especially in the 18-19 years age group, where
Topic on ‘INDIAN on an average the enrolment remains below
40% of the eligible population. Identifying
ELECTIONS’ launched on them through Panchayat Office records,
QUIZUP app Hospitals and Registrar/Sub Registrar(Birth
In June 2017, in congruence with NVD theme & Death), DEO/CEO’s office also invited
for the year- Empowering Young and Future Millennium Individuals through their website,
Electors, ECI launched a new topic- Indian Social Media pages. Beginning with the first-
Elections, on the hugely popular gaming app- stage identification, the subsequent campaign
QuizUp. The topic is available on the app for outreach involved micro-engagement
both Android and iOS users. initiatives including- Doorstep visit by Booth
Level Officers (BLOs), issuing of EPICs and
Millennium Voter badges on National Voters’
Millennium Voters Day functions at the National, State and District
Level, felicitating them with personalized
During the Summary Revision w.r.t. 1.1.2018, certificates signed by the concerned DEO and
ECI took up a special drive to enrol the newly involvement via social media.
eligible voters, those in the age of 18-19 years.
A unique concept was developed -Millennium On the January 25, 2018- the National Voters’

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Day, 6 Millennium Voters were presented film was produced through NFDC. The
Electors’ Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) by film consists of vivid action-packed visuals
the President of India . NVD witnessed a which were shot at actual locations so that it
simultaneous felicitation of nearly 60,000 resonates with the lives of armed personnel.
Millennium Voters across the country at State There is an inspirational song with upbeat
and District-Level functions marking the music towards the end of the film which has
occasion. become very popular. Along with the film, an
informative brochure and dedicated posters
for different armed forces such as Coast
Guards, Army, Navy, Air Force, CRPF etc. were
also produced and dispatched to their centres
in large numbers for dispersal.

Gaming & Voter Education


While LS 2014 saw ECI venturing into
edutainment for the first time through
development of board games and computer
games, second initiative in this direction was
taken up when for Chunav Pathshala (ELC
Community) it was decided to devise some
floor games to engage rural community. A set
of 6 floor games was developed with Lady
Irwin College, Department of Development
Targeting Service Voters Communication & Extension, incorporating
Consultations and meetings have been held important learnings/messages.
with stakeholders since 2015 to enhance
participation of Service Voters, mainly On these lines, for the tech savvy future and
the defence and paramilitary personnel. A young voter, ECI with the National Institute of
detailed SVEEP strategy was developed in Design, Bangalore is developing a smartphone
2017 for the Service Voters and interventions based digital game through its Digital Game
rolled out. Various wings of Armed Forces Design Faculty. Instead of passively receiving
and Paramilitary have been coordinated information, players take the role of a curious
with to monitor their part of the action plan. citizen who wishes to understand how Indians
CEOs have rolled out the plan in respective select their law makers. Players will actively
cantonment areas to reach the target audience. engage in completing quests and challenges
and unravel information regarding the election
As an important component of the strategy, process that is crucial for progressing to the
to promote electoral registration and voting next stage. The final stage of the game involves
through postal ballot by members of the Indian the player entering the Polling Station, going
armed forces, an informative and motivational through the entire process and casting her

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

vote using EVM and looking at VVPAT slip in a to work out ways of leveraging Community
computer simulated environment. The game Media (especially community radio) for
will be available for free download through spreading electoral literacy in the country.
popular mobile apps stores such as Google Play.

VoICE.NET
Community Radio Program
Voter Information,
ECI tried expanding Communication,
its outreach by Education Network
leveraging NIOS (VoICE.NET) is a
(National Institute global knowledge
of Open Schooling) network for
Community Radio sharing knowledge,
through a series resources and
named ‘Mat Evam expertise on Voter Education. VoICE.NET
Matdan, Kare was launched on October 20, 2016 at the
Loktantr Ka Nirman’ from June to November International Conference on Voter Education
2017. This series on elections was a joint for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation
initiative of ECI and NIOS-CR where different held at New Delhi. The global knowledge
aspects of elections and the election processes network is a part of the New Delhi Declaration
would be explored. adopted at the Conference by the 25 Election
Management Bodies and reputed international
Each of the one-hour episode was aired organizations like UNDP, International IDEA,
monthly and incorporated interviews/ panel IFES etc.
discussion with expert(s) along with small
snippets of different creatives developed by VoICE.NET has powerful features such as
ECI to spread awareness on importance of Resources, Best Practices, Announcements
elections such as songs, jingles, audio/ video and Calendar of Events as also the quarterly
plays, statements by icons, advertisements magazine ‘VoICE International’ and various
etc. This made the radio programme even Conference Readers with continuous update
more informative and interesting. Moreover, on innovation and initiatives from across the
a question was posed at the end of each world especially on voter education. VoICE.
programme and first 25 correct entries were NET hosts a number of ongoing events,
given a prize by Election Commission of India. activities and publications also.
The series was also aired from 167 community
radios pan India through Federation of VoICE.NET contents are provided by the
Community Radio Association (FCRS). member EMBs/Organisations, in-house
research and practice. The portal is maintained
ECI is now exploring collaboration with by Election Commission of India with the
University of Hyderabad, which hosts the Senior Deputy Election Commissioner as the
UNESCO Chair on Community Media in India, Executive Secretary. As of now, the VoICE.NET

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has 27 members, which includes 23 Election VoICE International has covered themes as
Management Bodies (EMBs) from across varied as- Empowering Young and Future
the world besides 4 Expert International Voters, Voter Education for Enhancing Gender
Institutions. Participation, Special Initiatives for Enhancing
Participation of Persons with Disabilities,
Enabling Overseas Electors and Service Voters
VoICE INTERNATIONAL & and Using Digital Technology and Social
Media for Voter Education. Additionally, the
VoICE INDIA magazines covered a range of electoral events
Between January 2017 and April 2018, the and happenings around the world and carried
SVEEP Division came up with 5 issues of interactive content in the form of Quizzes and
VoICE Network’s flagship magazine- VoICE Glossary of Electoral Terms.
International, and the inaugural issue of the
recently launched VoICE India. In congruence Serving as a vital repository of resources on
with the overall vision and spirit of the electoral literacy, education, information
Network, the magazines serve as invaluable and communication from around the world,
repositories on content pertaining to electoral the VoICE.NET portal presently bears new
literacy, voter information, communication and features (like the VoICE Box) and has been
education, presenting in-depth articles, essays made more vibrant and dynamic. The portal
and academic work on special initiatives from is maintained and updated regularly by the
member/associate EMBs and International SVEEP Division.
Organizations.

Accessible Elections
Accessible election has been one of the
priority areas for the Commission.
Commission’s directions,
comprehensive in nature,
cover a series of action
points for removal of barriers,
registration, mapping,
facilitation, voter education
and all the key areas of
electoral cycle relevant to
inclusion for equal access to
the PwDs. Inclusion of Persons
with Disabilities has been given
special focus in ECI’s Strategic
Plan 2016-25. In view of the
relevance and importance of the
subject, ‘Accessible Elections’ was

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

adopted by the Commission as the theme of assess the existing accessibility initiatives
National Voters’ Day, 2018 celebrations. An in place and finding solutions for addressing
International Conference on ‘Inclusion of challenges to enhance the participation of the
PwD’s in Electoral Process’ was also organized PwDs in the next elections.
by the Commission on January 24, 2018.
Besides the Chief Electoral Officers and
representatives from Civil Society, the
Consultations for Inclusion of National Consultation was attended by
representatives of national political parties
PwDs in the Electoral Process and senior officials from ministries. The
In line with the NVD 2018 theme “Accessible Consultation paves the way for evolving the
Elections”, Commission directed for policy on ‘Accessible Elections’ for making
consultation with stakeholders so that electoral process more accessible in the
a National Policy can be devised and forthcoming State and National Elections.
implemented ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
District and States level consultations have
been held in March –April where all the
stakeholders have been consulted to identify
challenges and barriers to the electoral
participation of PwDs and possible solutions.

The National Consultation on Accessible


Elections, held on 3-4th July, 2018 in New Delhi
was the culmination of the 3-month long series
of District-level and State-level consultations,
undertaken to identify barriers/gaps in the
inclusion of PwDs in the electoral process,

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Divyang Polling Stations survey findings which were carried out in the
State around 6 months ahead of the Elections.
These are polling stations manned by officials Targeted intervention was systematically
and personnel with disability. The aim is to planned for identified target segments after gap
empower PwD officials and encourage PwD analysis of the turnout data in past elections.
electors to come out and participate in the
electoral process. In addition, various mandatory interventions
were carried out for enhancing enrolment
of new electors and for enhancing overall
Pink Polling Stations voter turnout. This included strengthening
of Campus Ambassador Network, Booth
Pink Polling stations are manned exclusively Awareness Groups besides capacity building
by women officials and security personnel. of Booth Level officers (BLO) and further
Started as a unique initiative in one district strengthening of partnership with departments
aimed at encouraging wider participation and agencies for widest voter outreach
of women in the electoral process, it was
subsequently adopted across the country and
Major Outreach activities
now every Assembly Constituency usually sets
up one booth manned by all women polling Some of the major voter outreach activities
officials. during the various Assembly Elections since
2014 are as follows:

• Online clean & healthy Electoral Roll


available on www.nvsp.in
• Voter Facilitation Posters at all Polling
Stations (PS)
• New Photo Voter Slip for every elector
• Voter Assistance Booths at every Polling
location
• Numerous ‘All women managed Polling
Stations’
• Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
• All Polling Stations made accessible to PwDs
SVEEP Plans during General • Colourful Voter Guide for every household

Elections to State Assemblies • IT & Mobile apps for voters, candidates,


political parties
SVEEP core Committees were formed at
State HQs and District HQs for steering the
SVEEP interventions in the State and Districts
respectively. Comprehensive State SVEEP
Plans were chalked out for the Assembly
Elections, based on existing data and the KAP

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

SVEEP Portal democracy education with


SVEEP launched a new the help of partners and
website on the occasion of stakeholders. The website,
National Consultation on Accessible Elections better known as the SVEEP portal, aims to
organized by the Election Commission of India. takes forward the programme’s efforts on
Members of the Commission inaugurated the the online medium by reaching an enhanced
refurbished website of its Systematic Voters’ audience and making voter education free and
Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) accessible for all. The portal, ecisveep.nic.in
programme. has been redesigned in order to boost dynamic
interactivity and networking features. It offers
SVEEP aims to increase the electoral its users features like Gallery, Events Calendar,
participation, promote qualitative Tutorial, Blogs, Video Recording of events and
participation in terms of ethical and informed Online Quizzes to help them use this space to
voting and provide continuous electoral and brainstorm, organise and blog their activities.

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Miscellaneous IIIDEM Training Material
ECI has directed States to make a resource
pool of training at IIIDEM. For this, a portal
named as IIIDEM Training Material has been
developed for uploading and access of the
Introduction of PVC-Electors training material by all the CEOs and ECI
Photo Identity Cards (EPICs) officers. In this regard, CEOs are requested
to upload all the materials related to different
With a view to preventing impersonation and topics like the electoral roll, conduct of
to establish the identity of genuine elector elections, etc. available in the IIIDEM portal.
at the time of poll, the election laws have
made a provision of Electors Photo Identity
Cards (EPIC) under Rule 28 of Registration Management Information
of Electors Rules, 1960. Initially, the Election
Commission had issued EPIC with black
System (MIS)
and white photograph and a hologram with MIS (CEO level) is in place at Election
certain specifications. In 2013, the Election Commission of India since April 2015. It
Commission introduced PVC EPIC with colour started as submitting hard copies of filled-in
photograph and new specifications.As on formats. MIS has been online since September
today, the all India coverage of EPIC is 97.17%. 2015. ROs, DEOs and CEOs update data on
pre-designed formats every month.

Internship Programme
ECI started internship scheme to provide a
platform for skill enhancement of talented
and meritorious students coming from various
areas of specialization. Internship is provided
in the fields of (i) Election Laws (ii) Information
Technology (iii) Media and Communication (iv)
Election Management (v) SVEEP.

Public Grievance Redress


System (PGRS)
PGRS was given renewed emphasis in 2015
by creating a PGRS cell in the Commission to
monitor the disposal and to add complaints
which are not in the PGRS stream. Large
number of complaints received in the

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Commission online in the PGRS. Complaints Setting-up of Election


received via emails or in paper being registered Database Management
in the stream of PGRS by the dedicated cell. A
complaint ID is generated and tracking facility
Division (EDMD)
is provided to the complainants. All cases are ECI has renamed its Statistics Division as
disposed of ordinarily in 14 days’ time. Election Database Management Division
in view of the advanced data analytics
Salient Features: possibilities that can help in taking informed
decision. It is hoped that better election
 Monitor complaints filed by citizens for management procedures will be evolved and
quick and definite resolutions researchers and media will be benefited.

 Complainant can monitor the progress of


resolution and track the status. Procurement of VVPAT
 SMS based information system for Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
communicating with complainant and the is an independent system attached with the
officers responsible for resolution. Electronic Voting Machines that allows the
voters to verify that their votes are cast as
 Analysis on complaints recorded for intended. During Lok Sabha election 2014,
election process improvement. 8 out of 543 Parliamentary constituencies
were selected to deploy VVPAT. To increase
 Facility of accepting images and video along the coverage of VVPATs during the General
with complaints filed. Elections to various Legislative Assemblies
scheduled to be held in ensuing elections,
the Commission placed a purchase order for
procurement of VVPATs.

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Enforcement of Model Code  Special Arrangement for Women: As
of Conduct part of its firm commitment towards
gender equality and greater constructive
Model Code of Conduct is enforced with the participation of women in the electoral
announcement of elections. A high powered process, the Commission ensured that,
committee is constituted to process proposals to the extent possible, one ‘All- women
and also to respond to MCC related queries. Managed Polling Stations’ was setup in
These help in reduction of MCC violations. each Assembly Constituency.
These include complete restrictions on bike
rallies, use of loudspeakers, defacement of  Voter Facilitation Posters: Uniform and
public/ private property etc. FIRs are lodged standardized Voter Facilitation Posters
in certain cases of MCC violation. displayed on all Polling Stations for greater
facilitation and awareness of the voters on
the poll day.

 Voter Assistance Booths (VAB): Voter


Assistance Booths set up for every polling
station having a team of officials with the
objective of facilitating the voter to locate
his/her polling booth number and serial
number of that voter in the electoral roll of
that concerned polling booth.

 Increase in Height of Standardized Voting


Compartment to ensure Secrecy of voting:
In order to maintain the secrecy of vote,
Polling Station Facilitation: the Commission issued revised instructions
 Facilitation for Persons with Disabilities to increase the height of the Voting
(PwD): The Commission has instructed Compartments to 30 inches.
that as far as practicable, all polling stations
should be located at ground floor with
sturdy ramps are provision for wheel-
chairs. Further, in order to provide need-
based facilitation to differently-abled
voters, PwDs in an Assembly Constituency
to be identified and tagged to their
respective Polling Stations, providing
necessary disability-specific arrangements
for their smooth and convenient voting
experience. Identified PwDs should be
assisted by volunteers and given priority
while entering polling booths.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

New Initiatives 4) Effective use of Mobile App in


Bye-Elections

from Poll Gone In the Bye-Elections, the mobile app


was effectively used for monitoring

States of India
of different electoral activities like
training of polling personnel, timely
delivery of election materials, starting
time and arrival time of polling
personnel at the polling stations,
mock poll, starting of poll, any type of
Madhya Pradesh (M.P.) problem resulting in poll disruption,
1) Mobile App for AMF the departure time of polling personnel
A mobile app in Madhya Pradesh was after the polls and depositing of
developed to map AMF (Assured election material.
Minimum Facilities) in polling stations.
With the help of this app, the BLOs can 5) Gap in the age Cohort of 18-19 years
upload the information about available voters
facilities like drinking water, toilets, In the State, the projected population,
ramps, sheds etc. in the polling stations polling station wise in the age cohort
on ERMS server.  of 18-19 as on January 1, 2017 has
been calculated on the basis of 2011
2) Barcode and Digital signature census figures. 8,225 polling stations
Healthy Electoral Roll is imperative for have been identified where the gap in
free and fair elections. Barcode and this age cohort voters and population
Digital Signature have contributed is significant. BLOs of these booths
greatly in preventing fraudulent have been oriented to bridge this gap.
entries in the Electoral Rolls. And now this gap can be bridged with
concerted efforts.
3) Black and White Photo Locator
The State of Madhya Pradesh has 6) Setting up of MSKs (Matdata Shayta
developed unique software technically Kendra)
based on the photo pixels, for MSKs are the centre where an elector
identification of available black and can settle her/his complaint for
white photos in the Electoral Rolls. improving names, numbers, and booths
With the help of this software, 1.5 in the electoral list. They are setup in
crore black and white photographs various parts of the state for helping
have been identified and in the BLO the electors.
register, an additional column has been
printed and coloured photos are being
obtained. In last few months, 16 lakhs
colour photographs with completed
form no. 8 have been obtained.

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Mizoram 2) Attitudinal Change
The SVEEP material will be made to
1) Home to Home survey sensitise the people at large towards
Identification of PwDs with their type the electoral needs of PwDs.
of disability is being captured by BLO
during Home to Home survey. 3) Election Planner
Election Planner has been prepared
2) Free Transportation Facility and conveyed to all DEOs for timely
Transportation of PwDs on poll day is compliance of various tasks given to
facilitated in collaboration with various them.
NGOs in the state.

West Bengal
Rajasthan
1) SMS based poll monitoring system 
1) Braille Ballot Paper Sending poll related data on the day
Ballot Paper in Braille was given to of poll through SMS sent from the
Visually Impaired after casting their preregistered mobiles by the Presiding
vote. officers/Sector officers etc.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

2) Live Monitoring of Sensitive Area 2) Himachal e-Atlas Application was


(LMSA) developed to facilitate general public
Monitoring and tracking of incidents and voters of Himachal Pradesh.
in the sensitive area through live video
streaming from the roof-mounted 3) PDISE Application was used
camera on top of moving vehicles. successfully by Police Department
for randomization of police staff and
3) GIS based Expenditure monitoring their deployment during Vidhan Sabha
System Elections.
Tracking of activities related to the
election expenditure by android based 4) E-Payment to Polling Personnel
mobile app. and Vendors
All the Polling Personnel and the
4) WEB GIS  Vendors were given to their payment
Up-gradation of existing Web GIS online.
with some added layers/components
like necessary information of basic 5) Helpline Number
minimum facilities at polling stations. A missed call number (01772620551)
was provided to citizens to make calls
5) Webcasting for seeking automated reply to queries
Webcasting of live activities from the related to election.
polling stations on the day of poll (in
both online and offline modes) 6) Online contests like Best Photo
with Caption Contest and Best
Video Message Contest on Voters’
Himachal Pradesh Awareness were held in the state.

1) Himachal Janmat Mobile App 7) Slogan Campaign


App was developed and provided One slogan per day campaign in which
to general public of HP to, Search a new slogan on voters’ awareness/
their names in the Voter List, Polling ethical voting/enrolment, etc. was
Station Details, Toll Free Helpline, launched in the State was uploaded
Candidate Profile, Tutorial Videos, everyday on social media for
Message, Voter Awareness, Assured motivating people to enrol and come
Minimum Facilities, Awareness Videos, out to vote.
Communicate (Facebook, Twitter &
Instagram) and see Election Results 8) Web advertising on social media sites
on Counting Day. The application was was done about the elections and
successfully used by general public of e-portals where NRIs look for Local
HP. News about their home towns etc.

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9) Five songs on voters’ awareness in Chhattisgarh
different local dialects were prepared
and telecast in all cinema theatres, 1) ELC (Electoral Literacy CLub)
social media, local TV channels and Upcoming ELCs at school, college
big screens put up at important places and chunav pathshala to be used to
across the State. motivate the all sections of community
members to enroll and vote
10) GIFs were prepared on voter
awareness and VVPATs and circulated 2) Cultural Programme
on social media. Motivational cultural programme to be
conducted specially in the rural areas
11) State Icon by Kalajatthaks
Ms. Muskan Thakur of Shimla District,
who is visually impaired, was identified 3) Campus Ambassador
as State Icon for Systematic Voters Campus Ambassador in educational
Education and Electoral Awareness institution to be used for motivating
Participation (SVEEP) for encouraging youth about electoral process
young and future voters.
4) Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF)
Wide dissemination of AMF and
helpline no. 1950 amongst general
voters

12) Mahila Preraks


Establishing a team of Mahila Preraks
(Five per Panchayat) for informing,
motivating and facilitating the women
exclusively. 5) Arrangements for PwDs
Special arrangement for travel to
13) Targeting Nomadic People booth is being contemplated for PwD
of the State voters.
Special outreach programmes for
targeting nomadic group were 6) Signage Indicators
conducted by the help of CSOs (like Pathway to polling rooms will be
Preraks functioning in district Chamba). equipped with signage indicators.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

Gujarat
1) Female Polling Stations
Set up 182 ‘Sakhi’ Polling Stations,
managed entirely by women
functionaries for creating awareness
among women about electoral process.

6) Music Concert
Special ‘Vototsav’ Concert was
organized to engage people more
effectively.

2) Mock Polling Station


Mock Polling Station at large
educational institutes with EVM &
VVPAT for demonstration for general
voters.

3) Model Counting Centre


A Model Counting Centre established
at Ahmedabad for demonstration for
DEOs.
7) Mass engagement drives
4) Campaigning Mass engagement drives like
Communication campaign for pledge taking, human chains, rallies,
mainstreaming and evoke a sense competitions, walkathons, signature
of integration among third gender campaigns etc. organized at various
members cities & towns.

5) Facilitation of ‘On-site’ filling up of


forms to unregistered migrants
All the unregistered migrants were
given Form-6 for their registration.

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Contemporary 1) Enhancing the Participation of Voters:

Issues and
a) Even though participation of voters
in the last National election, 2014

Challenges
increased to about 66.7% as compared
to 59.5% in the last election, there is
still a substantial gap in participation
of voters. SVEEP initiatives and other
efforts have paid rich dividend and it is
The Indian Electoral System handles largest hoped that in the forthcoming National
electoral operations with over 875 million Election, the participation of voters
voters and almost one million polling stations. will enhance even more.
The system is a witness to emerging issues
and challenges. While the core strength of b) Participation of Voters in the State
our electoral system lies in its constitutional elections has increased significantly
prescription and the law that flows there from, after elections held in the post
the strategic initiatives of the Commission to National Elections in 2014.
match the emerging challenges from time to
time have helped in strengthening its connect 2) Participation of Voters in the Targeted
with the voters of different categories, Categories namely, youth, gender,
enhancing the efficiency and efficacy of the Persons with Disabilities, Marginalized
delivery systems, transparency and levels of Communities and Persons living in the
integrity across the electoral processes. Slum areas/ remote villages and hamlets,
Senior Citizens, etc.
The strategic initiatives of the ECI
include innovation, high grade expertise, 3) Breaking Urban Apathy among City
professionalism, well designed interventions Dwellers: Voter Awareness Forums to
with integration of state-of- the- art engage urban voters have been launched
technologies aimed at providing ‘Free, as also the launch of separate more
Fair and Inclusive Elections’ for continued powerful website for SVEEP and several e
strengthening of our democracy. connect initiatives.

Even though several initiatives and major steps 4) Participation of Service Voters and
have been taken by the Election Commission Overseas Electors.
of India in the recent past to make elections
better and better, more inclusive, participative, 5) Making Polling Stations more and more
festive, transparent and credible, the Accessible and Voter Friendly.
Commission is aware about following issues
and challenges for which sustained efforts are 6) Ensuring 100% purity and integrity of
being made continuously: Electoral Roll.

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

7) Providing seamless and time bound Voter Strategic Plan 2016-2025


services across the country. ECI has developed a comprehensive
Strategic Plan 2016-25 for addressing the
8) Providing IT and mobile enabled Services emerging issues and challenges in its election
for the Electoral Machinery and Citizens management. The long term plan has 15 Pillars
at large. with time bound goals, activities and specified
outcomes under each of the pillars for targeted
9) Voter Education and Awareness through interventions. The Strategic pillars of the Plan
Educational Institutions, Govt. and Non are as follows:
Govt. Organisations, CSOs, Media and  Legal Framework
Community Organisations  Operational Framework
 Institution and Organization.
10) Mitigating influence of money and  Delimitation
inducement to Voters in certain parts the  Election Management
Country.  Electoral Roll
 Human Resource
11) Making Voters informed and ethical  Electoral Literacy and Education.
Voters.  Leverage Technology for Enhancing
Efficiency and Effectiveness in Process and
12) Issue relating to Cyber safety of Electoral Outcome.
Data.  Documentation and Innovative Practices.
 Electoral Reform.
13) Regulation of Fake News/Paid News  International Cooperation.
especially within 48 hours of the Poll. A  Stakeholder Engagement.
high level committee of the ECI is working  Audit.
on this subject with ongoing interactions  Risk Management.
with the stakeholders.
The initiatives discussed under the earlier
14) Review and revision of the existing chapters are some of the key initiatives under
Electoral Laws in context of the present these Pillars.
requirement. Several new proposals have
been worked out and are in the pipeline. One of the key features of action on different
aspects is broad based stakeholder interaction
15) Training and Capacity Building of the and consultation. The interactions include
Electoral Machinery in the entire country consultations from grass roots levels to
from grass root level to the state levels. the national level and the international
conferences during recent time. The
interactions have helped evolving strategies
and action plans based on rich experience
and the ground realities. The e-platforms
like VoICE.NET help in continued knowledge
sharing across democracies of the world.

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Conclusion clashes, caste-based sensitivity, socioeconomic
and demographic factors, political polarization
etc. and special emphasis was laid on all the
vulnerable and sensitive location. Complaints
Along with all these initiatives , a peaceful from political parties and other stakeholders
law and order situation and robust and sound were also given due consideration during
security scenario is sine qua non for creating the mapping of vulnerable areas and force
a conducive and harmonious environment deployments were made after careful
for the conduct of free, fair, participative and consideration of all the pertinent factors. A
festive election, where people can cast their stringent focus was laid on the preventive
franchise without fear, threat or intimidation. measures undertaken in timely and systematic
To ensure that elections are held in a free and manner by the local police and civilian
fair manner, the Commission focused on a administration to ensure that all potential
three-pronged strategy involving: trouble makers are effectively checked. As
a result of the strict and unerring security
 Intensive preventive actions from the very framework, vigorous enforcement of laws,
day of announcement of the poll. meticulous advance planning and minute study
of criticality for deploying force, Web Casting
 Extensive outreach through communication etc., free and fair conduct of polls was ensured
initiatives to build confidence amongst the by ECI.
voters, especially in the vulnerable hamlets/
areas. Beside this, the Commission is committed
to curb abuse of money to induce and bribe
 Ensuring 100% security cover during the electors for illicit electoral gains. As part
different phases of election on poll days at of its comprehensive strategy to fight this
polling stations. menace, Expenditure sensitive constituencies
and areas were identified based on the part
As a part of vulnerability mapping and experience, historical evidence of distribution
mitigation strategy to prevent
intimidation to voters in pre-identified
habitations and hamlets, Central Police
Force (COF) were inducted in the poll-
going areas much prior to poll-days, so
as to enable them to carry out intensive
Confidence Building measures like area
dominations, foot patrol, route march
etc. to reassure and inspire faith in
the people regarding the peaceful and
fair conduct of the polls. Vulnerability
mapping exercise was done taking into
consideration a host of factors like part
history of electoral violence communal

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Innovations & Initiatives in Recent Elections in India

of cash and gift items, field intelligence and pursued vigorously. However, the Commission
local inputs. These identified constituencies has gone a step further and forcefully
were earmarked for focused attention of the introduced large scale use of videography,
expenditure monitoring network and law CCTV monitoring and live webcasting of all
enforcement agencies. By innovative use of the critical events during the election process.
Information Technology (IT), the complaint This video graphic coverage of election
management system especially relating to procedures, activities and operations not only
abuse of money was totally automated. ensures absolute openness of the actions and
activities of the election official but also acts
The degree of transparency in the electoral an incontrovertible defence against baseless
process, systems and decision-making is a allegations, motivated attacks and vilification
potent and telling indicator of the authenticity, of the poll process by vested interests.
credibility and acceptability of the election
and the results it throws up. Undoubtedly, The Commission aspires to reach out to each
the widespread utilization of IT tools and and every eligible citizen of the country and
platforms, information sharing and pro- facilitate their registration and provide them
active stakeholder involvement are crucial a secure, accessible, conducive and friendly
harbingers of transparency and must be environment to exercise their franchise.

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We, the citizens of India, having abiding
faith in democracy, hereby pledge to
uphold the democratic traditions of our
country and the dignity of free, fair and
peaceful elections, and to vote in every
election fearlessly and without being
influenced by considerations of religion,
race, caste, community, language or any
inducement.

— Voters’ Pledge administered by


Election Commission of India on National Voters’
Day (celebrated on 25th January every year)

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No Voter to be Left Behind

भारत निर्वाचन आयोग


Election Commission of India
Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001
Tel: +91-11-23052205-18, Fax: +91-11-23052219
Website: www.eci.nic.in

ECI Initiatives-7.indd 58 01-08-2018 19:42:18