Election Watch is probably the best known of Lok Satta's initiatives. The 1999 Election Watch during the assembly and parliament elections in Andhra Pradesh, partly funded by a generous grant from the sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mumbai, was India's largest such initiative. A broad-based committee of eminent citizens guided Election Watch movement.
loksatta Objectives :
- Promote public awareness
- People's participation to ensure free and fair election
- Promote better choice of candidates
- Focus on key governance and electoral reforms.
- Election Watch manual :
An Election Watch manual was prepared after meticulous research and released as citizen's guide to action.
- Verification of electoral rolls :
Citizens are involved on a large scale in better voter registration. Nearly 10,00,000 (1 million) additions and deletions were carried out.
- Screening of candidates :
A committee of jurists, activists, media persons and experts screened candidates for verifiable criminal record. A Post Box No: 100, Hyderabad-500004 was installed to receive information form the public. Finally the names and criminal records of 45 candidates were made public. It created tremendous impact on public minds, and focused attention on electoral reforms in a concrete and effective manner.
State level debate :
- Party leaders of Telugu Desam and Congress participated in a live television debate-similar to the US presidential campaign debates. The debates captured public imagination, and have the potential to change the nature of campaigning in India.
Enroll and vote campaign :
- Through mass media
- Citizens encouraged to go out and vote
- Invalidate the vote even if no candidate is preferred. It will at least prevent impersonating, and will be active dissent forcing parties to improve choices.
Monitoring polling :
- Trained volunteers (over 10,000) to monitor polling and contain irregularities
Surveys to unearth flaws:
- Lok Satta's pre-polling surveys showed over 40% flaws in electoral rolls in cities
- Post-polling surveys in cities showed that about 22% of those who are listed as having voted did not actually participate in polling
- State-wide survey results showed about 16 % errors in electoral rolls (commissions and omissions).
Major gains of Election Watch movement
Election Watch 1999, generously founded in part by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mumbai, resulted in significant gains to civil society.
The major gains of Election Watch movement are :
- Spread of public awareness on election flaws
- Focus on criminalization of politics, making it a key issue in the campaign.
- Evolving a verifiable, credible mechanism for identifying candidates with criminal record and making their record public
- Focus on changes in local government laws with respect to elections
- Focus on the flaws in electoral rolls and involvement of public in revision of electoral rolls
- Making knowledge capsules available to public on a large scale
- Training of volunteers on a large scale to help mobilize public opinion and encourage local initiatives.
- Focus on rigging and personation by post-poll surveys and publicizing results
- Lok Satta emerged as a credible, powerful platform with wide public support.
- The concept of getting information on candidates has gained ground
- The idea of candidates seeking to be public servants and the notion of publicly questioning them and eliciting responses have been accepted widely
- Focus on issues of public importance and governance issues, instead of merely who will win or lose.
- Strong advocacy of specific governance goals and public commitment of parties and candidates
- Use of electronic media on an unprecedented scale for meaningful public broadcasting to mould public opinion and bring pressure on parties
- High level of citizens' participation in monitoring election process - particularly polling.
- Dramatic changes in campaign techniques, with focus on common platforms and live televised debates.
Fri, 06/02/2006 (All day) - Fri, 06/12/2009 (All day)