Towards Advancing An Ongoing Conversation on Electoral Reform

The conduct of democratic elections, the process by which The People in a Democracy agree to have individuals represent them in various discussion spaces (‘legislatures’) that are empowered to set the rules for democratic conduct of the nation, is not easy.

It is far more difficult, needless to say, in countries that have substantial populations, spread out over large geographic and ecologically distinct regions. It is safe to say, though, that finding a method that is both thorough and affordable, is likely to be simple enough to apply equally well in smaller nations, with less inherent complexities.

In India, the burgeoning cost of holding elections, compounded by the difficulties posed in assuring an electorate with varying literacy could vote freely and independently using paper ballots created a wave of support to use electronic voting machines. However, technology alone cannot solve human problems, and is almost always known to create new problems.

The Constitution of India seeks to guarantee the right of individuals to move in society as free people, and this includes the right to vote, anonymously, and to know that the vote being counted is the vote actually cast.

The Election Commission was set up to manage this process, but process problems continue to impair the verity of the electoral process.

Towards furthering the objective of resolving such issues, therefore, many interested citizens have proposed steps to lead to substantive improvements. Some of these are encapsulated in detailed studies of the present processes, studies for which the Election Commission itself is not geared, and has not geared itself, and which is also a structural problem.

Much of the work done is captured in the posts that form this set on electoral reforms here at the Azad Maidan, and is also available at various websites hosted by different groups who have done this work and support it.

Among the steps that could be taken now is to convene meetings of such experts and concerned citizens, across different venues in different parts of the country, and awaken interest in driving change among ordinary citizens who have so far left it to appointed experts, in the hope that such experts are actually capable and have an interest in seeking continuous improvement. So far, there have hardly been any such coordinated efforts, hence the need for more citizen involvement.