The real strength of our country lies in the ballot paper. Looking at the huge voting exercise and the system put to work reveals the value of the vote and the need for the voters to use it judiciously. There are two essential pre-requisites to make our democratic arrangement succeed in real sense of the term.
One is that the voters have to be fully aware of the importance of their vote and they should be able to make the right choice of the candidate to whom they vote. The second is that the voting system should be foolproof and no chance of either mismanagement or cheating should be there. That depends on the polling authority.
In that sense the Chief Election Commissioner of India has the most crucial duty to perform when he is desired to ensure that voting will be fair and free.
We have travelled a good deal along the path of democracy in this country. We have gained more experience out of our mistakes and faults in the past. This encourages the country and its governing system to remove snags and faults hitherto identified while conducting previous elections. In other words, it is true that with each new election coming up, the Election Commission upgrades its system to ensure fairness to the voter.
From what has been announced by the CEC, we find that some fresh measures have been adopted to make the polling relatively foolproof. All votes will be cast through electronic voting machines which have been tested and re-tested and, reportedly, admit no fault.
Proper monitoring of voting has been arranged and the voters will have to produce photographed identity cards. The CEC has assured that no black money will be allowed to influence the voting process and proper authorities have been alerted to handle the matter.
Among other measures one is that polling parties will be formed randomly and through special software and three-stage randomization will be adopted to ensure that they do not know in advance at what polling booth they are deployed.
EC will also set up 24-hour call centre for redressing complaints which can be registered either by calling at a toll-free number 1950 or on the EC website. Apart from these preventive measures there are other aspects that have also been taken care of particularly deployment of security forces to ensure trouble free election.
An overview of the mechanism announce by the CEC for Assembly polls in five states shows that with the passage of time, the election system in this country is improving. Each election exercise adds something more to the system in becoming tamper-proof.
This is justifiable because it is the decisive institution that determines who will govern the country and how. We cannot say that we had no faults in our electoral system in the past. But we have learnt how to remove them and improve the system.
However, we would like to make one specific observation. Although it is the duty of political parties in the country to educate the people on the subject of judicious and wise use of their votes, it should also be the agenda of the Chief Election Commission of India to participate and take a leading role in bringing awareness to the people of how much important it is to vote, and vote wisely for the right candidate.
We often hear that criminals, goons and anti-social elements using money power steal the elections and come to the Assemblies. Who is responsible for sending them to the august house? Surely not the government, not the CEC and not any administrative machinery. It is the people the voters who are responsible. As such it is of vital importance that the voters are properly educated in the judicious use of their vote.