Chief Election Commissioner of India Shri Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioner’s Shri Anup Chandra Pandey and Shri Arun Goel today inaugurated a two day international conference on the theme ‘Use of Technology & Elections Integrity’. The conference which is second in a series of three conferences to be organized by Election Commission of India is hosted at New Delhi under Cohort on Election Integrity led by ECI. 16 countries including Heads/Dy Heads of nine EMBs or Election Authorities are participating.

Speaking on the occasion on pressing challenges before the Election Management Bodies, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar stressed on the impact of new media especially the social media on the intersection of technology with EMBs’ functioning. He added that a disturbing trend of deep fake narratives have become a common feature in elections worldwide, where disruptive elements attempt to alter public perception and mislead the user by repetitively presenting the deep fakes as “fact”. While recalling his keynote address from the previous conference, Shri Kumar stressed that social media intermediaries through their algorithm power and AI, have the capability to detect the deep fakes proactively, especially in jurisdictions like India, where electoral cycles are definite and well announced.

Shri Kumar further raised concerns over level playing field not inbuilt in platforms search results to at least show officially verified versions with the same prominence as fake content. CEC used enforcement agencies analogy to put onus on social media platforms to detect deep fakes proactively. He said that it is difficult to imagine if the enforcement agencies say that they would not act unless crime is reported to them; intelligence prevention is not their responsibility

CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar’s address at the inaugural ceremony. Watch here: https://youtu.be/OX7SaLevQfw

In his keynote address at the inaugural ceremony, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar emphasised that engagement of technology has become vital in ensuring inclusivity and transparency in elections and thus in further building up trust towards the democratic electoral exercise. The success of any EMB depends on deploying appropriate technology in three broad verticals – ease of registration for voters, facilitating political parties & candidates and thirdly for election management & logistics/security. Speaking on the occasion, CEC Shri Kumar highlighted various tech interventions by ECI like cVigil, Saksham App for PwDs and use of battery operated non-networked EVMs in a million plus polling stations which has empowered voters and has ensured prompt and credible electoral outcomes election after election.

The first session on the ‘Technology for Election Administration’ was co-chaired by the Election Commissioner of India Shri Arun Goel and Electoral Commissioner of Mauritius H.E. Mr.  Mohammad Irfan Abdool Rahman. The session had presentations from Election Authorities in Armenia, Australia, Croatia & Georgia.

During his address, EC Shri Arun Goel said that use of technology in election administration has become indispensable from automating basic processes to managing sophisticated electoral databases. Shri Goel highlighted various technology initiatives being used by ECI for managing a database of over 94.5 crore electors and to facilitate election related decision making like rationalization of polling stations; technology for facilitating political parties/candidates and apps like cVigil to empower voters.

DG IIIDEM and Senior DEC Shri Dharmendra Sharma welcomed the delegates to the two day conference. Mr. Mohd. Irfan Abdool Rahman, Electoral Commissioner of Mauritius, Mr. Anthony Banbury, President & CEO, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Mr. Giorgi Sharabidze, Deputy Chairperson & CEC of Georgia, representatives from International IDEA & EMBs including Angola, Armenia, Australia, Chile, Croatia, Dominica, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Mauritius, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines and Suriname, officials from ECI are attending the two day Conference. 

During the conference, a booklet ‘Global Initiatives in the Use of Technology in Elections’ prepared by ECI was also unveiled. The book is a compilation of the best technology practices of EMBs worldwide. International Training Modules developed by IIIDEM for training & capacity building of officials from EMBs were also released. 

The second session on ‘Technology Solutions for Inclusive Elections’ is chaired by President & CEO IFES. The session has presentations from the Philippines, Angola & representative from International IDEA.

The third session on ‘Technology as an Enabler & Challenges of Digital Space’ to be held tomorrow will be co-chaired by Dy Chairperson & CEC of Georgia and Vice-President/Minister, Tribunal Superior de Justicia Electoral, Paraguay. The session will have presentations from Indonesia & IFES.

The concluding session and the way forward on Jan 24, 2023 will be chaired by Election Commissioner of India, Shri Anup Chandra Pandey.

For more details, please see updates on twitter thread @ECISVEEP and also:

  1. Curtain Raiser link : tinyurl.com/yc2pcksf   
  2. https://eci.gov.in/ic/ic-2023/