The General Elections for the year 2017 concluded last week. A rather dull and controversial election season saw the Election Commission take up various new initiatives in an endeavour to have a greater reach among the campus fraternity.
One of the major highlights of this year’s elections was the idea of conducting executive dialogue and debates via Facebook live. Ayush Pathak, the Chief Election Officer (CEO), 2016-17 said, “The live streaming of the debates and dialogue fetched a good viewership with an average Facebook reach of over 4,500.”
Though the idea of Executive Dialogue was quite successful, campaigning on Facebook using video manifestos drew flak, particularly related to font size and content arrangement. In response, the CEO said, “The implementation of the idea by the candidates was mediocre. We advised them many times but still various mistakes were committed by the candidates because the idea was the first of its kind. But it still garnered a great response from campus community as well as alumni. I believe it will definitely be successful in days to come.”
This year for the first time, a card free voting system was organised. However, according to the EC, the success rate was about 70% due to data not being available with the Office Automation system.
Major changes in the Code of Conduct included a decrease in the fine amount and a change in the pattern of the SoP Box. Till now, cross questioning was not entertained, neither from the panel nor from the public. This time, the SoP Box had a lot of cross questioning, which ensured that ambiguities of any sort were clarified.
Another significant change was an increase in the campaigning period from 5 days (all working days) to 7 days (including two holidays). This was a big relief for the candidates as they could comfortably space out and plan campaigning in hostels.
A few ideas from the pre-conduction report, however, were not implemented by the EC. One of them was releasing posters in all halls informing people about the functioning of the senate. The CEO said, “It wasn’t implemented as planned but the collaboration with TedX, IIT Kanpur team made the posters more amusing. A number of online posters were also released. An interesting display of posters was implemented on the polling booths notifying the voters about NOTA and General Elections.”
There was a conspicuous increase in activity of the Election Commission with many new initiatives. However, all efforts were marred by a very dull election season. There was a significant decrease of nominations as compared to last year for various Senator positions due to which elections were conducted only for Senator, BT/BS Y16 and MSc (2yr)/ MSc-PhD Y16.
A more severe issue, however, are reports of a major decline in the voter’s turnout. The exact details shall be revealed in the next Senate meeting. This is definitely a major point of concern both for the Students’ Gymkhana and for the entire campus community.