CSDS-Lokniti 2024 pre-poll survey | Level and intensity of voter trust in select institutions and processes

The data clearly indicate the fact that the trust of the voter in the Election Commission (EC) has declined compared with five years ago

April 12, 2024 05:17 am | Updated 07:12 am IST

A view of the Election Commission of India, in New Delhi. File

A view of the Election Commission of India, in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey provides some insights into the level of trust the voter has in some key institutions and processes.

The data clearly indicate the fact that the trust of the voter in the Election Commission (EC) has declined compared with five years ago. In a similar study done by CSDS-Lokniti in 2019, more than half of the voters said they had a great amount of trust in the EC. This has declined to a little over one-fourth this time.

Also Read:Lokniti CSDS pre-poll survey for 2024 Lok Sabha elections

While there is a marginal increase in those who have some trust in the EC, the percentage of those who don’t have much trust or have no trust at all has doubled compared with five years ago (Table 1). The public perception of the way the EC has functioned has seen a clear decline. This has implications for the faith of citizens on the fairness and impartiality of the authority that oversees elections.

A linked factor is the public confidence in the scope for manipulation of electronic voting machines(EVM). One-sixth of the respondents believe that there is a lot of scope for manipulation of EVMs by the ruling party. Close to three in 10 believe that there is some scope for manipulation. Taken together, it accounts for close to half of the respondents. A little over one-fourth of the respondents were categorical in their faith in EVMs not being subjected to serious manipulation (Table 2). It is clear that steps need to be taken to build greater public confidence in EVMs.

The survey also tapped responses about the working of select government agencies. The respondents were more or less equally divided among those who felt that agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were being used as a political vendetta tool and those who said that the agencies were working within contours of law. It is important to note that one-third had no response to the question. Among those who supported the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), close to a majority felt that the agencies worked within the gamut of the law, while two in 10 conceded that these agencies were tools of political vendetta. Among the supporters of the Congress and its allies, more than half asserted that these agencies are being used for political vendetta while less than two in 10 felt that they were working within the bounds of law. The supporters of other parties tended to side with the followers of the Congress and its allies who had a little less intense stand of political vendetta (Table 3).

Once again, the lens by which the respondents view the working of these agencies is the party that they endorse and support.

The data clearly indicate a trust deficit in select institutions. Would this impact on their voting choice is a different question? During voting, choice could be impacted by trust, while there could well be other variables that assume greater salience.

Sandeep Shastri is Director-Academics, NITTE Education Trust, and the National Coordinator of the Lokniti Network

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