India being the largest democracy requires strict enforcement of Model Code Conduct (MCC) to ensure free and fair elections. From past many elections, the enforcement machinery has been brought into place which used to identify and take appropriate action against violators. So far, the complaints about violations of Model Code of Conduct often could not be followed instantly, leading to the violators escaping detection from the action squads. Also, due to lack of any documented evidence in the form of pictures, audios or videos it was seen as a hurdle in verifying a complaint. Further, the absence of a robust response system to quickly and accurately identify the scene of occurrence of violations with the help of geographical location details hampered election officers’ ability to apprehend the violators.
cVIGIL empowers Citizens to report Model Code of Conduct Violations such as bribery, free gift, liquor distribution, playing loudspeakers beyond the permissible time during the elections. By using a simple mobile app, the citizen captures the live photo or video. The Election machinery comes into action immediately as they get the evidentiary proof of the violation. Every cVIGIL case is acted upon and replied back with the action taken in the 100-minute timeline. The cVIGIL is now being used in Delhi elections. Since its first pilot in five states’ Assembly General elections during October- December 2018 till the Jharkhand State Assembly General elections during November-December 2019, a total number of 1,71,745 cases have been filled through cVIGIL and from which 1,27,567 (74%) of the cases have been found correct.
The mobile app is available at Google Play store here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.nic.eci.cvigil&hl=en_IN and in Apple Store here: https://apps.apple.com/in/app/cvigil/id1455719541
The Election Commission of India designed and developed a simple yet effective mobile app called cVIGIL. At its core, cVIGIL draws on the idea of community policing. It spurs citizen engagement, and participation in the enforcement process. It assumes officials need citizens, and a trust-based partnership to properly conduct elections. And the mobile application facilitates that partnership by creating awareness, building trust, and confidence.
cVIGIL has firmly taken root in the Electoral System of India. The initiative of the Election Commission of India will go meaningfully a long way in engaging Citizens in the electoral process but also meaningfully bringing in a level playing field. In coming times, cVIGIL will become the linchpin of democracy. However, there are many things that need to be done. The first thing is about its reach. A lot of efforts need to be done for its availability to the common man.
cVIGIL is a major transformative application which has simplified the recording, reporting and resolving the complex model code of conduct violations during the elections period. By use of this technology, Election Commission of India has ushered in an era of greater transparency and involvement of common man in the electoral process. As citizens become more aware about it, the more they will feel part of the elections and better will be the participation in democracy.
cVIGIL has won the ‘best Excellence Award’ for the year 2019 given by Computer Society of India. The award was given on 17th January 2019 at KiiT Bhubaneswar.
Functionality/ Features of the application
c-VIGIL Citizen Mobile App
C-Vigil was built to report Model Code of Conduct violations during elections. The app prioritized the speedy and effective actions by authorities and promised users status reports within 100 minutes. This “100-minute” rule made the app a reliable way to report violations. The 100-minute time-lines infused the energy into the enforcement staff and a sense of urgency prevailed.
- Register Complaints: The app allows every citizen within the election boundaries to report the Model Code of Conduct / Expenditure Violations by taking photo/audio/video through their mobile phones by signing into the application.
- Anonymous User: The app also allows the citizen to complain anonymously, without revealing their personal details/ identity.
- Geotagging: The app automatically enables a geo-tagging feature when users switched on their camera in the cVIGIL to report a violation, which helps the field unit to know the precise location of the incident.
cVIGIL Investigator app has been made for the Field units like Flying Squads & Static Surveillance Team to investigate the cVIGIL Citizen cases and conduct Suo-Moto case reporting.
- Instant Action on incidents: The application forced the Field Unit to reach the spot of the incidence within 15 mins and only then they could upload their report.
- Suo Moto: One of the important byproducts of the cVIGIL was the use of cVIGIL by Field Units themselves to file suo-moto cases.
cVIGIL Monitor App
cVIGIL Monitor App provides access to all cases filed in the jurisdiction to Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) and ECI Officials from where they can emphasize and highlight important cases for speedy investigation and redressal.
- Monitor Live Case: This technology was used for live case monitoring of all the violation complaints directly through mobile devices.
- Emphasize/ Highlight cases: Officers can highlight/ Emphasize the cases for prompt resolution and enforce the time-bound pressure on flying squads.
- Live Status of complaint: Real-time tracking allows citizens and other officials, to check the progress of complaints.
cVIGIL Decider App & RO Dashboard
cVIGIL Decider App/ Dashboard enables the District Electoral Officer (DEO) / Returning Officers (ROs) to decide upon the cases which are sent by the Investigator at the convenience of their mobile phones or system.
- View Live cases: Decider can access all MCC Violation complaints and check real-time progress.
- Action on Cases: Decider/ Returning Officer can take actions such as Drop, Decide, and Escalate on cVIGIL cases after the report submitted by the Field Unit.
cVIGIL Observer App
cVIGIL Observer App allows Observers and other staff authorized by ECI, to see MCC/ expenditure violation, Appointed for general observers, expenditure observers, police observers may login with Observer ID and Password and avail below features
- Observers can view the cases falling under their jurisdictions
- Highlight the cases if urgent attention required
- Give observation after the investigation is complete by FST.
- Observers can comment only, after a Field Unit has submitted ‘action taken’ reports on them.
Outcome of the application
In election management terms, cVIGIL achieved three things: bottom-up enforcement of laws, timely and effective enforcement of those laws, and a preventive rather than reactive enforcement regime.
At its core, cVIGIL draws on the idea of community policing encouraging citizens to participate in the enforcement process. It assumes officials need citizens, and a trust-based partnership to properly conduct elections. A mobile application facilitates that partnership by creating awareness, building trust, and confidence. For example, this election saw district election officers publicizing the application, and encouraging its use. Countless reports suggest that this spurred citizens to rethink their role in the electoral process, stay vigilant, and know about what is permissible as part of a campaign, and what is not.
From the Commission’s perspective, the application generated invaluable data that draws on embedded actors - people who know their local environment, its most pressing problems and forms of violations, and can accurately report these to officials. Tapping into “local wisdom” and “information pools” has the potential to significantly shape the Commission’s activities, particularly drawing up a priority list of violations that can be used in future enforcement.
Moreover, such applications build trust and confidence. As our data suggest, a large proportion of users were willing to file non-anonymous complaints; and re-usage rates indicate they felt their complaints were being acted on. In fact, encouraged by the initial response, the Commission started a “leaderboard” in the app, to identify and reward the most proactive citizens. In a way, this created an incentive for others to also actively use the platform; besides creating reputational benefits for civic-minded users. It is also worth noting that in many cases, ordinary voters raised their voice against local strongmen or influential persons who were flouting the law. Put together, citizens were more aware, had greater trust in institutions, and self-confidence.
Not only does cVIGIL act as a potent decision support system tool for election machinery but also ensures participation of common man in conducting free and fair elections. 92% of cases were registered through cVIGIL mode in comparison to other modes such as letters, phone calls or by post. A whopping 99 % of cases were resolved during the 2019 Lok Sabha phase and every case which was resolved through the cVIGIL was informed to the complainant.
The application cVIGIL bonded together all election machinery in enforcing Model Code of Conduct violations. The Election Commission was able to directly drill down upto the level of field units. This brought in alertness and quality in disposal of cases. The timelines were enforced by a seamless information technology interface.
During the assembly election held at Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana 19,050 total cases were reported and 13,252 total cases were found correct and addressed.
During the Lok sabha election 2019, 1,42,270 total cases were reported and 1,10,030 number of total cases were found correct and addressed.
During the assembly election held in Maharashtra and Haryana, 9,902 total cases were reported and 7,650 total cases were found correct and addressed.