(In 2016 corporation election city had surprised poll pundits by recording 102.62% voter turnout)
With completion of the sixth phase of polling on 12th May, 2019, Indian general election for constitution of the 17th Lok Sabha has now entered into its last phase. Chandigarh is going to vote in the last and 7th phase on the 19th May.
“While, it is a matter of pride for every citizen of this largest democracy of the world to cast one’s decisive vote and to maximize voter turnout to cent percent level, at the same time, it is equally important for all of us to render all sorts of support to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for the conduct of elections in a fair and free manner” stated Vinod Vashisht, Convener of City Forum Of Residents Welfare Organisations (CFORWO).
On these lines, since publication of election notification, CFORWO has been releasing bi-weekly e-flyers and disseminating election related information for better understanding of voters of Chandigarh. This time, ECI has released a number of election related mobile apps such as Voter Helpline, Voter Turnout and cVIGIL. Needless to mention, ECI is running its Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) flagship programme since 2009.
It is pertinent to mention that during last elections held in Chandigarh on 18th December, 2016 for the municipal corporation, in one of the polling stations (No. 14) of ward number 7, number of votes casted were found to be 703 whereas the total number of valid votes as per the electoral roll were 685 only meaning whereby voter turnout of 102.62% – a ridiculous situation raising questions on the fairness of election. When this incidence came to the light of the state election commissioner, re-poll was ordered for the concerned polling station for the next day. “Had mere 18 voters abstained on that polling day, the outcome would have been a 100% voter turnout and this serious goof-up would never had come to the notice of anyone” pointed out Vashisht. We are hopeful and sure that this time local chief election officer has taken all extra steps and measures so that there is no repeat of such incidence this time, added Vashisht. Not only election duty staff and polling agents, ‘we the voters’ are also required to remain extra vigilant. cVIGIL app is one such tool to depend upon.
The cVIGIL app is a fast-track complaint reception and redressal system for citizens to report Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and Expenditure violations during the elections. ‘cVIGIL’ stands for Vigilant Citizen and emphasizes the proactive and responsible role citizens can play in the conduct of free and fair elections. It is a user-friendly and easy to operate the android application, which can be used for reporting violations. The uniqueness of the app is that it only allows Live Photo/ video with auto location capture from within the app to ensure digital evidence for flying squads to act upon in a time-bound manner. By using this app, citizens can immediately report on incidents of political misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer.
All is required, is to click a picture or a 2-minute video of the activity violating model code of conduct and describe it shortly, before registering the complaint. GIS information captured with the complaint automatically flags it to the concerned District Control Room, permitting flying squads to be routed to the spot within few minutes. After a Field Unit has acted upon the complaint, the field report is sent to the concerned returning officer for decision and disposal. If the incident is found correct, the information is sent to the National Grievance Portal of the ECI for further action and the vigilant citizen is informed about the status within 100 minutes.
The cVIGIL user gets 5 minutes to report an incidence after having clicked a picture or a video. The app will not allow uploading of the pre-recorded images/ videos, neither would it allow users to save photos/videos clicked from this app into the phone gallery directly. To prevent misuse of the system and to avoid repetitive complaints from the same spot, the system forces time delay of 5 minutes between successive complaints by the same person. The cVIGIL application must be used for lodging MCC violation related cases only. District Controller could drop a cVIGIL complaint without any further recourse, in case personal grievances are registered through cVIGIL app or the digital attachment of a cVIGIL complaint is found to be unrelated to an MCC violation. For lodging general complaints, one can either use the ECI website or can call at 1950 or 0172-2700322.
So far, maximum voter turnout has been 90.66% at Dhubri parliamentary constituency in Assam during phase 3 followed by Barpeta (Assam) 86.60 (phase 3) and Rajahmundry (AP) 86.54% (phase 1). The least voter turnout has been recorded at Anantnag (J&K) with 8.8%. Panchkula has recorded 65.48 voter turnout.