Bengal: Keep your mobile handy on poll day to register complaint

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Mar 04, 2016 14:08 IST
Cops in Burdwan on a confidence-building exercise on Wednesday. (Md Asif/HT Photo)

The Election Commission (EC) would address voters’ complaints within 30 minutes on polling day, top officials of the panel claimed on Wednesday.

The Commission will introduce a new application for smartphone users, by virtue of which the voters could lodge complaints should they happen to spot electoral malpractices, if any, on polling day. Called ‘Samadhan’, the mobile application will soon be made available for download. The panel has promised a swift feedback and response to complaints lodged via the mobile app.

As soon as a voter lodges a complaint using a smartphone, an alert would go out to EC officials on their phones. The complaint, once posted, would also set off a stop watch on the app. The concerned polling officer would receive SMS alerts about the time left to attend to the problem.

The entire process of posting the complaint and the response to the same could be monitored not just by the complainant himself, but also the EC bosses in Kolkata and New Delhi.

“We have orders from our (EC) top bosses that any complaint lodged on polling day through the mobile app, which is to be launched soon, will have to be addressed and attended to at the earliest. Preferably, within 30 minutes,” a senior EC official in Kolkata said.

“If the complainant’s mobile phone is GPS-enabled, it would take us barely seconds to locate him and respond. Our flying squads would rush to the spot as soon as the alert goes out. Our men would have cameras handy to collect visual evidence of electoral malpractices, if any. Forces and senior (EC) officers would arrive soon to address the problem,” the official said. Officials said that if a complaint is not about polling but related, instead, to the voters’ list or EPIC (voters’ identity cards), it would be addressed within three days.

On any other poll-related issue, the panel would respond within 24 hours. On complaints on polling day, however, the response time is 30 minutes.

Once a voter lodges a complaint using the app, he would receive a confirmation message and a user-id. He would be able to track the status of his complaint using the id. A voter could also upload a picture or a small video clip as evidence, to support his complaint.

The concerned officers — the state’s chief electoral officer, district election officer and returning officer — would receive SMS alerts about the complaint and the time left to respond to it.

“If the officer fails to react within the stipulated time, a green light would turn red on the Samadhan app on his device and repeated reminders would flash on his phone about his failure to respond to the complaint,” a senior official said.

Sources said over the past few months, sector officers of the EC have fanned out to remote villages to collect information about hamlets, families and even individuals who fear violence and might not show up on polling day. They said individuals or groups that could spell trouble on polling day have also been identified. “We have already come up with a vulnerability map. Actions based on the inputs we have collected would be initiated soon. Some people, who might create problems on polling day, would be arrested. These would be preventive arrests,” the official said.

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