Aiming for a better tomorrow : Revised system of Hall Elections

Aiming for a better tomorrow : Revised system of Hall Elections

On a global scale, elections have always served as the best way to let people choose their representatives. Casting a vote is exercising one of your fundamental rights. Being a part of the world’s largest democracy definitely makes us highly responsible when it comes to casting votes. NIT Rourkela, being one of the leading technical institutes of the country has seen all kinds of voting procedures, be it during Hall elections or SAC elections. Hall elections form an integral part of a student's life at NIT Rourkela. It enables the boarders to choose their hall representatives, who would pay heed to their grievances and bring about the desired reforms. Discarding the old ballot paper or vote-on-your-own practices, this time the Hall elections were conducted through a central online voting method.  Various rooms in the Lecture Avenue had been allotted to different Halls. Students were required to show their ID cards after which an OTP was given to them; following which they voted for the most deserving candidate.

 Discrepancies and non-accountability were the main reasons for resorting to the online voting system. The previous paper ballot system was manipulative with unfair means in few cases being adopted. It compromised with the transparency and impartiality associated with conducting an unbiased and fair election. As of the new modification in the voting systems, it got variable responses from the NITR junta.

Recently, Team Monday Morning conducted an online poll amongst the students of NIT Rourkela wherein the students’ reaction to the introduction of online voting was analyzed. Quoting some of the statistics put forth in that analysis;

  • A bulk 69% of the NIT Rourkela mass strongly believes that it brings transparency and avoids malpractices.
  • A meagre 9% is of the opinion that there was no apparent improvement than the previous system.
  • A mean 22% says that it was too inconvenient to be sustained.

A lot of chaos at the voting venue was observed owing to the fact that the two largest halls—SD and VS Halls of residence had been allotted the same room. An overall estimate of the strength of both the halls amounts to around 3000 students. For all other halls of residence, the revised procedure went on smoothly. Moreover, it was quite clumsy for boarders of faraway halls of residences like KMS, SD, VS and HB to come from their hostels to cast a single vote.

Here’s what students have to say about the revised system of  Hall Elections,

  Rashmitha Pulsam, a boarder from KMS Hall of Residence, shares her view,

The introduction of online system of voting is a welcome one. But there is this issue of travelling all the way to LA to just cast a vote. Moreover, if it takes place in weekends, then very few would prefer to come out of the room and travel far enough to just cast a vote.

 Smruti Snigdha Behera, a resident of KMS says;

It is really a good initiative. The paper ballot system was very much manipulative.  The electronic voting is done under the guidance of professors and other higher officials. It ensures that no discrepancy occurs in the process.

Prajna Prayas Behera from DBA Hall of Residence has the opinion that there was no apparent improvement from the previous system.

Although it was an innovative idea to curb down the zonal issues, it has not changed much of the scenario. The harrassment of the students still persists on the biased zonal system. The deserving candidate loses yet again due to the existing of such systems. The inconveniency lies with the timing of the voting. The weekend time saw many people not turning up for casting their votes.

Nischay Nirajit, an MSS boarder is satisfied with the revised system as he quotes,

A fair and unbiased election was carried on. The new digital system had cut down the unfair means on a large scale. Voters can cast their votes sensibly without any peer pressure.

Supreet Mohanty, Games and Sports secretary expresses his support for the new system as,

The fairness in the elections have risen considerably. The use of force and zonal seniority declined as the voters can cast their votes independently. Malpractices like NITRIS id password collection did not have place in such a system. For bringing some change, some hardships must be taken care of so, the distance from hostel and weekend excuse are not something to be considered.

Nair Anirudh Suresh, ex-General Secretary of MV Hall of Residence approves this election as a success,

The best thing about the Hall elections is that the person casting the vote has total independence and power of choice. The zone politics was stagnant this time round. The online procedure and immediate declaration of results saved much time and effort. If a good amount of time window is available, it can be carried smoothly.

Manish Kumar Panda, the newly elected Environmental Secretary of Satish Dhawan Hall of Residence, expresses his joy and says,

The fair elections ensured the deserving candidate to win. The days of biased institute elections are gone. NIT Rourkela has taken a great step in shaping the future engineers into responsible citizens. I have an aim of creating a lawn in the hostel and ensure the control of insects and pests in the hostel.

An anonymous source says,

There has been no reasonable change in the outcome of the elections. The zone system still persists as the voters are swayed away by the influence of zonal seniors. Alliances and other political evil ideology are in practice. Yet again, the ugly side of elections came out to the scene during campaign. I hope for an election counselling committee to advise the voters on ethical casting of their votes so that the deserving candidate wins and bring a better change for the future of NIT Rourkela.

On being asked about the revised system to Prof. Syed Nasimul Alam, he says:

The revised system of online voting is a good one. Even the SAC elections this year were  conducted through online voting.The ballot system was quite bulky and the process was very tedious. Moreover it was prone to manipulation. At the same time, online system has its own flaws. Students collect NITRIS ids and password to ensure their victory. So both the forms have their own pros and cons. It depends on how the resources have been utilised.

SAC elections were conducted through online voting recently in April. An IP address was created where students had to log in and cast their votes. It led to the creation of voting hubs at various places inside the hostel. Students from a particular zone were pressurised to cast their votes for their zonal representatives. Those students had to compromise with their right to vote power. Alliances were formed by 2 or more zones where they felt that the number of students voting for them was low. They wanted to ensure their victory in all ways possible. Cases of violence were also reported in a few of the boys' hostels.

Both the systems have their pros and cons. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. Moreover, everytime an election takes place at NITR, the atmosphere gets inclined towards zone and zonal representation. It is more of zonal elections rather than SAC or Hall elections. Whichever method is adopted, should see to it that the most deserving candidate gets the post. It is expected that more authentic, user-friendly and transparent methods of voting would be brought in; to ensure that the entire process of voting takes place smoothly.

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