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  1. 1. Manthan topic: Informed Voter Eradicating the dominion of money and muscle power from the elections Electoral Reforms Team Details: Faizan Mohd. Suraj Sahoo Vishnu Vinjam Barkha Bansal Parul Maheshwari Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
  2. 2. Statistics of the current government and the elections conducted in 2009 • 33% of candidates who declared assets more than ₹ 5 crores, won in 2009 • 16% of the contesting candidates had assets more than ₹ 1 crore • 2009 Lok Sabha Poll estimated spending nearly ₹ 10,000 crore, higher than the 2008 US Presidential Elections (nearly ₹ 8,000 crore) • 162 MPs have a total of 552 pending criminal cases, of which, 76 were serious • 15% of candidates standing for 2009 lok Sabha elections had pending criminal cases against them • 1,448 of total 4,835 MPs and MLAs are facing criminal charges • 62% of the candidates were without a PAN • percentage growth in assets of 304 MPs who re-contested in the 2009 was 289% • Candidates with more assets were observed to be gaining majority in most of the elections 33% 30% 62%
  3. 3. Issues with the Existing Electoral System • Candidates distribute goodies among citizens to attract votes • Intensive use of money in these campaign malpractices • Ones with higher assets are observed to be winning elections in the past • Voters get easily influenced by the freebies or intimidation. • Citizens generally unaware of a candidate’s motives and past achievements • Inefficiency in implementation of the existing rules leading to these malpractices • A vote is a strong currency in the elections, especially for a contesting candidate • Strengthening the voter increases the value of the vote and the voter • Convincing the informed and aware voter will require efficient effort from the candidate’s side Use of Money & Muscle Power Cause of These Issues Motive for Choosing the Voter
  4. 4. Bringing awareness among the citizens is the most efficient way to address this problem. Informed Voter Accountable Candidature Advantages of the Reform • Informing citizens more about the candidates standing from their constituency • Modes of information dissemination are chosen so as to reach maximum number of citizens: television, radio & local newspaper in the vernacular language • Citizens are incentivized to complain about campaigning malpractices and hence reduce the corruption involved in the election process • Candidates have to make a constituency manifesto that is separate from the party manifesto hence making him more accountable • The manifesto has to be justified on a public platform including a conversation with the opposing candidates through the election debates • Candidates have to make an affidavit containing information about their assets/liabilities and criminal cases which is made easily available for public scrutiny • Citizens will be given an opportunity to logically decide a better candidate for them • The number of votes gained by a candidate will reflect more of his individual caliber and vision about his constituency than that of his party at the state/national level • Elections will be made relatively fair, especially for the candidates who have comparatively less resources
  5. 5. Added responsibilities of the candidates Conducting the election debate Giving information to the voters Basic Idea Timeline and publicizing Motive • The candidates to submit a manifesto in vernacular language • Manifesto should be meant to address the problems pertaining to the constituency • It should be different from the party manifesto • Candidate’s affidavit i.e. the nomination form is to be made easily available to the public • The affidavit will contain details of assets/liabilities and past criminal cases, if any • Manifesto has to be submitted at the time of filing nomination • All manifestos for a constituency printed in the local newspaper on the election debate day • Copies of manifesto and affidavit will be available at government offices for public reference • Any eligible voter can get the copies against some payment. • To make the procedure more transparent and clear • On a constituency level, voters get to know the promises a candidate is making • Voters will be aware of the financial and criminal status of a particular candidate • Beneficial for candidates who are not able to reach to the voters due to lack of resources and time
  6. 6. Idea and motive Structure Organization • Election debate on constituency level • Organized & Moderated by Returning Officer of the constituency • A platform for the candidates get to question their opponents’ manifestos • Voters get a comparative picture of candidates • Candidate’s vision, planning and caliber is reflected • Shifting the focus from party to the candidate from a constituency • All the candidates of the constituency convene • A candidate reads out his manifesto • Opposing candidates can raise questions regarding the manifesto • Concerned candidate has to respond within a maximum of 5 minutes • A total of 30 minutes is allotted to each candidate (10 minutes for reading manifesto and 20 minutes for QnA) • To be organized on a particular day which is different for each constituency in a given area • Debate day for each constituency is finalized by the district election officer • To be organized in a public school or community hall • It is officially video-graphed for public reference • On the debate day, the manifestos and affidavits are published in the local newspaper Added responsibilities of the candidates Conducting the election debate Giving information to the voters
  7. 7. Added responsibilities of the candidates Conducting the election debate Giving information to the voters Motivating the voter Election Debate Awareness Campaign • Any eligible voter can get candidate or party manifesto against a minimal payment from any government office • Citizens will be given a commensurate monetary reward for apprising the local election authority about a campaign malpractice • The identity of the voter filing complain, will be kept anonymous • The venue & timing of the debate will be notified well before • The audio will be aired live on radio channel • Debate will be aired live on the television • Videos will be archived on the EC’s official YouTube Channel • Live screening in remote areas to cater a large crowd • An awareness campaign by government with which the voters can easily connect to • To be spread through multimedia: ads on TV, radio and newspapers • Encourage the voters to vote as per their personal choice • Motivate the voter to complaint against threatening • Motivate the voter to complain about malpractices
  8. 8. Election Commissioners Section Officers Chief Electoral Officer District Election Officer Returning Officer Sector Officer Micro Observer Presiding Officer Electoral Registration Officers Commission's Observer Polling officer National level body State level machinery Will schedule election debate in all the constituencies in a district and ensure peaceful completion of the procedure Will organize and moderate election debate in his constituency and ensure proper conduction Will ensure election-debate and candidate’s manifesto reach to the public Will implement laws regarding the election and coordinate with the judiciary to resolve criminal issues. Ensure proper functioning of lower organs of the system. Electoral Organizational Structure
  9. 9. Impact and Reach Candidates Election process and Results • The voters will have an easy access to their rights and powers • The voters can decide their vote on a logical basis comparing the past records and future policies of all the candidates • The voters will now get the medium and assured anonymity to complaint against any practice they feel is unjust • The candidates will have to extensively check the promises they want to make for the constituency • The candidates will be answerable for any complaint on any campaign malpractice • The candidates will be answerable to the voters for their unaccountable money and criminal records • The New election process will make the voter more powerful than the current situation • The issue of party or caste bias will be solved • The elected candidate will be accountable to cover all the points proposed by him in the manifesto • The process will demotivate the freebies promised randomly by a candidate Informed Voter Accountable Candidate Transparent Process
  10. 10. This model will lead to an added expenditure of ₹ 107 Crores Election Debate: ₹ 12 Lacs per Constituency Info Dissemination: ₹ 1 Lac per Constituency Constituency level expenditure: ₹ 13 lacs Awareness Campaign: ₹ 36 Crores for the Nation Total Cost for National Election: ₹ (13X 543) lacs + ₹ 36 Crores = 107 Crores Similar Estimate for Vidhan Sabha Elections Organization Cost: ₹ 50,000 Media Cost: ₹ 10 Lacs Public Screening: ₹ 1 Lac Providing copies of candidate manifestos and affidavits in Govt. offices ₹ 1 Lac Media Cost: ₹ 25 Crores Logistics: ₹ 1 Crores Development Cost: ₹ 10 Crores Assuming that the size of a state level constituency is one-third of a National level Constituency Constituency level expenditure: ₹ 4.3 lacs The Expenditure incurred by a state depends upon the number of constituencies it has: For example, the budget for Sikkim (32 constituencies) will be ₹ 1.5 Crores while that for Uttar Pradesh (403) constituencies will be ₹ 17 Crores
  11. 11. Conducting the Election Debate Giving Information to the Voters Added Responsibilities of the Candidates • Candidate can circumvent the checking instruments • Candidate can produce counterfeit documents • Debate may turn in to quarrel and may not lead to any conclusion • Manifestos published in newspaper will not be fruitful for illiterate voters • Election video & manifestos can be tampered • Electoral authorities need to be more responsible • They should have access to all data of other departments like revenue and police dept. • RO has to appoint an election debate moderator who can tackle such situation • Extra security force should provided to avoid untoward situation • Sector officers must have the onus to check the malpractices and a method for quick redressal must be devised Challenges and their Mitigations Challenges Mitigation
  12. 12. • Association of Democratic Reforms: • Website of the election commission of India: • Hindustan Times, 5th September, 2013: • Compendium of instructions: • Handbook for Returning Officers: pdf • Maps of India: • Wikipedia Appendix