Ballot Box

The Aftermath of Elections- Is there Room for Improvement?

Another edition of Delhi University Students’ Union(DUSU) elections gone by, another year’s campaigning done and dusted. What lies ahead is the vast aftermath of elections and the countless reforms the process is yet to witness.

DUSU elections are continuously undergoing some change. From the implementation of EVMs(Electronic Voter Machines) that replaced ballot boxes to the NOTA(None of The Above) option that was introduced last year, many issues have been rectified by the responsible authorities.

However, a slight cause of worry is the fact that out of the total votes for all four posts, NOTA votes increased by a staggering 60%, from 17,722 last year to 29,770 this year. The use of this option should be lauded, but to prevent NOTA votes from increasing next year too, we can improve and learn from foreign universities’ student body elections and draw parallels that stand relevant in the Indian scenario.

  1. Referendums can be held to solidify the constitution that governs DUSU elections.This procedure, complicated to understand but easier in practice, requires contesting suits to get signatures to put forward a question for a referendum on the ballot. If a threshold of signatories is reached, the referendum is conducted to make elections more student inclusive. If the question gets the support of 2/3rd of the voters with at least 10% voting in favour, the proposed amendment is passed and cannot be repealed by any authority. This gives voters the significant power to exercise their rights and influence legislation governing them. This model is actively followed at Harvard University.
  2. Unlike the case in India, in most University Government Bodies(UGB) in the U.S, candidates are not affiliated with any political party, either the Democrats or Republicans. There are, however, separate clubs and organisations that harbour their ideologies, regardless of which they still have no direct link with the parties. It is unlikely that the same model will ever be followed in the Indian scenario, but it provides an insightful snippet of thought for future elections.
  3. University officials are striving to make elections relevant to the digital age but still follow outdated mediums to do the same. Since Delhi University is an open university with colleges spread far and wide, for a candidate to reach out to the maximum number of students in limited time is an impossibility. Conducting university-wide debates in henceforth not possible, and not every college has the required infrastructure to accommodate all the students of its institution for the same. Candidates in foreign universities come up with websites meant specifically for their election campaigns. Following a similar digital route, candidates for DUSU elections can conduct live sessions, use chat boxes for live question-answer rounds and spread manifesto circulars on open social media platforms.

As much as political parties are despised during the time leading up to elections, many have pitched in reforms that could potentially bring revolutionary changes. The number of EVMs can be increased and mock runs of EVMs can be conducted, as the controversy of tampering always arises after elections are through. Audits could be conducted of the DUSU expenditure and the same published on a public portal to help interested students review the functioning of the outgoing DUSU panel. (Credits: NSUI and ABVP)

A plethora of similar suggestions have been pitched already, but very few implemented to keep up with the time. Most of the time there are administrative delays and faults that hinder path-breaking changes in the student electoral process. A certain degree of autonomy and accountability could go hand-in-hand to help voters and candidates exercise this opportunity and uphold the spirit of democracy.

Image Credits: My Republica

 

Vijeata Balani

vijeatab@dubeat.com

 




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