The 2019 Lok Sabha elections in India, conducted in 7 phases had 900 million voters eligible to participate in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.
In 29 states and 7 federal territories, 10 lakh polling stations determined the fate of 543 members of 2354 registered political parties in the lower house of the parliament.
Use of Technology
This year saw the introduction of many new technologies for smooth conduction of the elections. They included GPS tracking of EVMs and VVPATs, voter helpline, poll data monitoring and election expenditure monitoring via cVIGIL, PWD app, Suvidha Candidate app and EVM management system.
However, the pressing problem of fake voter identity is still a grey area. The booth officer verifying the person against the photograph can only do so. The size of the photograph is small, and it is in black and white. This makes it almost impossible for a human eye to exactly match the id with the person carrying it.
This made us think, with the proliferation of artificial intelligence giving us better recommendations on e-commerce sites to making the ever-so-complex poll prediction, could the same technology improve our experience at the polling booth?
It turns out that AI-powered computer vision can not only provide accurate and efficient verification of voters at the polling booth but provide intelligent queue management and proactive customer experience recommendations just by analyzing crowds.
The Way Out
It is easy for computers, powered with lenses, to capture an image and count the number of humans in the image. This is a powerful feature for conducting an automated assessment of crowds in a queue and providing real-time alerts to coordinators to better manage a queue at the polling booths. This could not only serve to improve the voting experience but avoid unnecessary disgruntled crowds after long wait times.
More importantly, face recognition technology can be used within the polling booths to quickly and efficiently verify the individuals who are coming in, and swiftly move them to the available electronic voting machines. These systems also ensure the correct identity is giving the vote and keep a digital footprint of the person who has given the vote. Voting experience can be improved while also improving the security of the people casting their vote.
Artificial Intelligence powered voting could also liberate people to vote from whichever city of choice they are in. Today over 250 million Indians who are eligible to vote, work from outside their home state or place of birth. This provides a huge strain on the voting system as voter turnout stands at a dismal 50per cent – 60per cent and far lower in many places. The use of Facial Recognition technology could enable a person to vote from any polling booth in India. This technology has the potential to take voter turnout upwards of 90per cent giving more Indians a chance to participate in its democracy.
It’s a Must Have
In a country of 1.3 billion conducting elections is a large undertaking by any measure. We as a country have to constantly strive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our great nation starting with the way we elect our people. Modern-day elections can be transformed with the use of Artificial Intelligence by reducing the amount of manual labour required to execute such an exercise while also improve the overall effectiveness of an endeavour of this scale and magnitude.
As the country embraced Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) from 1999 and chose to take the path away from voting on paper, it is time for the Indian elections to take another giant leap in the way the common man votes in India. A technological transformation is essential for voting in the AI-powered century.