As assembly election results poured in on Sunday from four Indian states, we could see the power of technology in full force in so many ways. The Internet has made such a strong penetration that social media played a big role in the run-up to the voting and also as the results poured in. Comments from all over buzzed on Twitter and Facebook and leading TV news channels have fully integrated feedback loops into their schedules and newsgathering practices.
But beyond this were two things. One, with no clear verdict on who is the winner in Delhi, there was a big question: will the new state government last? Second, there was also the “NOTA” (None of The Above) factor this time in polling: electors had the right to click in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) on a button that rejected any of their candidates.
But putting all these factors together, there is a case to make Indian elections “cloud-enabled” by 2020. Now, it is common for you to take part in online polls on many websites, and these generate instant results, often showing simple preferences on various themes.
In the future can we look at more advanced EVMs that are hooked on to the Internet so that results are generated instantly? Or, more interesting, can the voters be allowed to record a “second preference” candidate in their EVMs so that in the event of a hung parliament or assembly, the costly business of having mid-term elections is avoided by instantly generating a Plan B?
All sorts of options are open. I do think that both the options mentioned above are too esoteric and controversial right now, and maybe India is not ready for it. But the technology is ready and it might be wise to arrive at a consensus sooner than later.