They will live stream proceedings without compromising on secrecy of voting

On April 24, inside more than half the 2,512 polling booths in the Coimbatore Parliamentary constituency, voters may find students with their laptops and web cameras. The students will be there to webcast or live stream the polling process, without comprising on the secrecy of voting.

According to Deputy Collector – Trainee C. Paul Princely, based on orders from Collector Archana Patnaik his colleague R. Narmathadevi, he a few others as a team interacted with students of engineering colleges through campus ambassadors and nodal officers to invite students for webcasting.

However, the team did not straightaway bring in the students for the purpose. The process of engaging the students began more than three months ago with enrolment of eligible students in the voters’ list.

The team appointed a student in each of the colleges it engaged with, as ‘campus ambassadors’ to coordinate the enrolment process.

Once that was done, the team asked campus ambassadors of engineering colleges to identify students for the webcasting exercise.

The idea was to webcast elections from all the 2,512 polling booths. But the district election machinery scaled it down to 1,050 booths based on instructions from the Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu.

Mr. Princely said that the team chose students from only private engineering colleges and that too those who owned laptops. The objective was to make the exercise as free, transparent and neutral as possible.

The team with help from Election Observers had completed the first phase of the training process.

It would train the students for two more days but that would happen once the Election Commission of India provided the webcasting software.

In the second phase, the student webcasters would be told about the polling booth layout, as by being first time voters, they might not have had access to polling booths.

“The team will show them pictures and videos of the polling booth. And, of course, the webcasters have micro observers to help them out.”

Only on three occasions would the webcasting students focus on the control unit and the electronic voting machine – when the mock voting exercise is done, when the machines are sealed for actual voting and after the end of the voting process.

The objective was to ensure a free and transparent election, he added.

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