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Principles and reforms summary


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Suggestions on election reforms submitted to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Legislative Department, Government of India on February 4th 2011.

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Principles and reforms summary

  1. 1. Purpose of Elections Purpose of elections is to ensure every member of each Electoral College can deposit (or withdraw) its vote, as a proxy to participation in governance, to a candidate of its choice and be assured that the system faithfully accounts for it Principles of Reform 1. Every stakeholder community and geography must find participation by inclusion, not exclusion of the other. This principle would require that the election system allow every stakeholder community an equal opportunity of representation in a geographical constituency by including their participation, not excluding the participation of other stakeholders. It would also require that every geographical region have an equal opportunity for representation by including its participation, not excluding the participation of a region. 2. Ensure the vote will be a better proxy to development decision-making. This principle would require that the voter is able recognize and take action on the deviations in the development agenda or ideals promised to the voter. 3. Ensure the ability of every voter to count and be counted. This principle would require that every voter have ample opportunity to vote. It also requires that every vote cast by the voter would continue to matter. 4. Ensure the ability to vote to candidate of choice. This principle would need to provide for flexibility to voters to select, choose (and vote for) candidates of their choice. 5. Provide a means to account for every vote and ensure the fidelity of each vote. This principle would require that it is possible to ensure each vote to a candidate is genuine. It would need to ensure that each voter’s vote actually reached the account of the candidate to which it was deposited. It would need to provide a means to audit and certify the fidelity of the polling process. Main Ideas for Reforms based on these Principles Offices for election 1. Administrative boundaries must coincide with constituencies and constituencies must not morph with time. 2. The Rajya Sabha in the centre and Legislative Council in the State should represent stakeholders communities and be elected by these communities, not by geographical representatives. Electoral College 1. Each member of the Electoral College must be automatically and fairly included onto the Electoral Rolls. 2. Issue an Election Card to each member on the Census indicating the year from which they may cast votes for each Office of Election in the country. 3. Searchable Electoral Rolls should map onto street maps and allow a person to find if their name exists and also to find duplicate names. 4. Electoral Rolls of a constituency should be accessible freely to the all the members of its electorate. 5. A consolidated demographic and development profile of the constituency must be mandatory and accessible to every member of its electorate. Candidates 1. Candidates can represent a constituency where they are domiciled.
  2. 2. 2. Candidate Rolls should be accessible freely to the all the members of the Electoral College. 3. Remove any restriction on the number of candidates or even a formal nomination process beyond ensuring domicile (or enrollment in that constituencies voter list). 4. Allow the voter to even nominate any person domiciled in the constituency as a candidate. 5. Political parties to inspire national policies that local (independent) candidates may support. 6. Create mechanisms to attract those who seek to serve the community and not themselves or business and political lobbies. 7. Register candidates and provide special funding for their participation in peoples environmental and development activities. 8. Create a website for each constituency where each registered candidate to have a web page describing an agenda for the constituency and the project details of the peoples environmental and development activities the candidate supports. 9. Print and mail the resume and information on the peoples projects that each candidate from the constituency is participating in to the voters in that constituency. Procedures for election 1. ECI to create a Public Sector undertaking to conduct the elections or outsourcing the elections to NGO’s or even businesses whose exclusive activity is the management of events or seek out local people in each constituency who volunteer the conducting of elections under supervision and direction of the Election Commission. 2. Procedures for election need to be simple and a way of enforcing the principles outlined for reforms. The rules for capturing the vote and counting it 1. ECI to introduce receipts and an audit trail as a means to capture or record the legitimacy of a vote and ensure the voter feels relevant. 2. A well-designed Voting Receipt as to be generated as two-part print-outs from the EVM. Part I to be dropped into a ballot box by the voter after confirming it documents the correct vote. Part II could stay with the voter as proof of the transaction. 3. A unique Vote Number to track every vote to be generated by the EVM through an encryption algorithm using the Voters ID, the Polling Officers ID and the EVM ID. Each Vote No to then be associated with a unique Vote. 4. Any Vote Number should be verifiable as being valid or for the vote it stores by logging in at an ECI website for example This verification site could then report invalid for invalid Vote Numbers and the number of the Candidate for a valid vote. It should be possible to do this without yielding the identity of the voter. 5. The voter should be able to log-in to an ECI site for example with the voterid and date-of-birth (that they can reset to another password) to check details of their vote as they appear on the Part II of the receipt with them. 6. All EVM’s to upload their data to an encrypted database provide information to anyone through secure access to at the ECI websites for example and Such a system to
  3. 3. enable check if all votes to a candidate came from legitimate voters without revealing their identity. It should also make it possible to report duplicate votes and negate them. 7. Cell phones to be developed to become ubiquitous EVM’s in the hands of the voter to capture and record votes into a national database. 8. Cellular Service Providers to be required to generate a mechanism to capture Part I of the voting receipt in their database and make it accessible to third party Open Audit. 9. Cellular Service Provider to be required to guarantee to its subscriber the Terms of Privacy and Security. 10. ECI to invest in a mobile-based voting platform that is inclusive, available ubiquitously and provides a good transaction trail. This would allow the ECI to play its role to supervise, direct and control the elections effectively. Declaration of results 1. Declaration of results has to provide adequate reassurance that every voter counts and has been counted. 2. Third party audit to be made mandatory before the ECI certifies the result to be true and correct (or an audited result). 3. Detailed result of votes polled by each candidate from the constituency can be declared and made available by the ECI on the constituency website on the official day of declaration of results. Certifying the fidelity and contesting it 1. ECI to adapt an open-audit framework for the voting process. 2. Anyone concerned with the voting process to be able to track one or many transactions, while respecting the privacy of each voter. ECI to enable anyone to check the legitimacy of each vote or of all the votes received by a candidate, but protect the identity of the voter who cast the vote. 3. Bar codes of Part I Receipts, dropped by voters in the polling box at the booth, to be read into an encrypted Receipt database by an agency independent of the one counting votes stored in the EVM. 4. A publicly available Poll Audit software program ( for example at to compare the Candidate No registered against each Vote Number in the Receipt with the EVM and generate a report of invalid Vote Numbers, invalid Candidate Numbers, Vote Numbers in the EVM Database but not in the Receipt Database, Vote Numbers in the Receipt Database but not in the EVM Database and discrepancies the Candidate Number registered in the two databases for each Polling centre. In the event there are no discrepancies, it can certify the Votes as valid. 5. Poll Audit software to provide reports of illegitimate Vote Numbers, illegitimate Voter IDs by each Polling Centre or by each legitimate Polling Officer ID. This would make the fidelity of every counted vote completely transparent and verifiable.