Election Commission & Google Partner For 2014 Election Voter Registrations!
We are not sure if AAP would be supporting the Congress or BJP would again join hands with JD(U) for the forthcoming General Elections 2014, but one thing we are sure of is that it is going to be a cakewalk for all tech-savvy voters for the forthcoming General Elections, thanks to the alliance between Election Commission of India and Google. Yes, you read it right.
The General Elections in India are to be held somewhere around May 2014. There were approximately 714 million eligible voters in the 2009 elections, and going by that trend, there would be tens of millions more this time, including 150 million first-timers.
So the EC has made an intelligent decision and entered into a key partnership with US-based internet giant, Google, to help it manage online voter registration and facilitation services ahead of the gigantic democratic exercise, one of the biggest in the world.
Over the next six months, Google will offer EC its resources, including its search engine, to enable voters to check their enrolment status online and locate their polling station, complete with directions using Google Maps.
What will EC get? As part of the partnership, Google will put its worldwide network and resources at the Commission’s disposal until June 2014 to help it manage online registration of new voters and allow the enrolled ones to check the address at which they are registered, and get directions to the polling station.
With the new rolls with reference to January 1, 2014, slated to be out by January 6, the voters’ queries on the Commission website are likely to be managed by Google starting from the second week of January.
What will Google get? Every company has a Corporate Social Responsibility and Google is not very good at that. Doing this $50,000 (over Rs. 30 lakhs) service free of cost means Google is using its CSR budget to fund this exercise, thus earning brownie points by helping this developing nation and the next superpower.
What does EC say? They are happy, obviously! “All that one needs to do now is to type his name/EPIC no and address on the Google Search engine, which will promptly generate results matching the voters’ name with his assembly/Lok Sabha constituency, and pinpointing the location of his polling station…in fact, Google Maps will give exact directions to the voter on how to get to the correct polling station on the polling day,” explained a senior EC official.
Is India special for Google? Of course not. Google is a very, very smart enterprise. It is offering similar services across 100 countries as part of its CSR obligations.
Will this help? Yes, yes and yes. EC had tied up with US-based IT firm Akamai for putting out results for the recent assembly polls in five states. The use of 272 servers of Akamai across the world to disseminate the results, as against barely two servers in use during the 2009 Lok Sabha poll, ensured that the ECI website could handle the millions of hits it received per minute on the counting day (December 8).
Fineprint? We are not skeptical but the 2014 elections could have been an excellent opportunity for the EC to upgrade its IT infrastructure and become more tech-savvy instead of outsourcing such crucial work always.
No doubt the Google partnership is the second to none tie-up but sharing such crucial voter data with foreign organizations is not always a smart thing to do, especially when there are reports of spying in the air.
One thing is sure, voters will have a breeze finding out all details and that one complaint of the server crashing due to millions logging in at one single moment would be redundant!