Robust monitoring of cases using the cVIGIL portal allowed the Chief Electoral Officers, Returning Officers and the Commission to investigate delays, incorrect decisions, and recurring instances of lethargy.
- Assignments of cases: The vigorous case allocation using cVIGIL portal allowed the officers to create a robust response/ redressal system.
- Real-time status Tracking of field units: Real-time tracking of the field units enforced the time-bound pressure on them, but on the other hand, making sure that they actually reach the location of incidence.
One of the fundamental shifts the cVIGIL brought in its 77% success was the GIS based location tagging. For example, the app automatically enabled a geo-tagging feature when users switched on their camera in the cVIGIL to report a violation. This meant that Flying Squads could know the precise location of a reported violation, and the image could be used as evidence in a court of law. Here then is a case where the First Information Report also becomes critical evidence, should a legal process unfold. And, technology-enabled enforcement mechanisms ensured that flying squads were at the site of a reported transgression.
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.