With the announcement of the schedule for the imminent Lok Sabha polls, the entire nation is gripped by election fever. However, apart from the dates and clarifications over electoral procedure, the Election Commission in its communique has also spelt out the provision of some online/mobile facilities for the voter.
For effective conduct of elections, the ECI has integrated use of telecommunications and smart technology in various processes of elections. Here are a few helplines and apps that will be useful as you get ready to cast your vote in the mammoth democratic exercise coming up in a few weeks from now.
The Voter Helpline 1950 has been activated across the country to cater to voters’ queries. Citizens can call this universal toll-free helpline number to connect directly to the District Contact Centre. All districts & CEO Offices across all states/UTs have established Contact Centres to provide Information and register feedback, suggestions and complaints.
Any user can call 1950 and obtain information about his Voter details in the electoral roll, check for the status of his enrollment application and also lodge grievance. An SMS facility has also been made available on this number to enable electors to verify their names on the Electoral Roll.
Now, why is this important?
In the past, the Commission has received complaints that even some persons having EPIC were denied the right to vote because their name was not found in the electoral rolls. In its poll announcement, the Election Commission has clarified that only those persons are allowed to vote at a Polling Station who are enrolled in the electoral roll for that Polling Station. EPIC is only an identity document and does not confer the right of vote on any person, whose name is not in the electoral roll. Also, the law does not allow inclusion of names in the electoral roll after 3:00 PM on the last date of filing nominations, till the electoral process is complete. You must, therefore, check that your name is in the electoral rolls and apply at the earliest if it is not.
Facility of checking is also provided on the website of the National Voter’s Service Portal. If the name of any person eligible to be enrolled is left out for some reason or has been wrongly deleted, such a person should immediately fill application for inclusion of name in Form 6.
The cVIGIL app
Consequent to the announcement of the Schedule for the General Election, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates comes into operation with immediate effect in the entire country. This will be applicable to all political parties and the Union and State Governments and UT Administrations.
The cVIGIL app will enable citizens to promptly report to election authorities on any violation of Model Code of Conduct as well as any incident of intimidation or inducement, within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to go to the office of the returning officer.
cVIGIL is a simple, Android-based mobile app available on Google Play here which is user-friendly and easy to operate. All that one has to do is to simply click a picture or to take a video and briefly describe the activity before uploading it on the cVIGIL mobile application. If the complainant desires to remain anonymous he has the option to do so.
cVIGIL provides time-stamped evidentiary proof of the Model Code of Conduct / Expenditure Violation, having live photo/video with auto location data.The District Control Room allocates cVIGIL cases to the Flying Squads etc. through GIS based platform. Flying Squads investigate the matter and the Returning Officer takes the decision. The status of cVIGIL is shared with the cVIGIL complainant within 100 minutes.
The Voter Helpline Mobile app
This would help all citizens find their names in the electoral roll, submit online forms, check the status of the application, file complaints and receive the replies on their mobile app. All forms, results, candidate affidavit, press notes, Voter awareness and important instructions are available through the mobile app. This app is available at the Google Play store.
Eligible citizens/ citizens in the category of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) can request for new registration, change in address, change in particulars and mark themselves as PwD through the use of the mobile application. By simply entering their contact details, the Booth Level Officer is assigned to provide doorstep facility. PwDs can also request for a wheelchair during polling. The app is available at Google Play store here.
The Election Commission of India has designed a single integrated web portal for registering and resolving citizen Information, suggestion, feedback and complaints (IFSC). The universal portal is available for Election as well as non-election period. All the EROs, DEO, CEO and ECI Officials are connected to the Samadhan Portal and the complaint lodged in Samadhan directly connects to concerned official. There is an escalation \matrix configured into the system and if within a time frame the matter is not addressed by ERO, it gets escalated to the next levels.
[The content here has been compiled on the basis of a press note from the Election Commission of India. Access the entire release here.
For election schedule in top 10 metros, click here.]