Comments Submitted to the Election Commission of India
In response to the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) call for comments/suggestions for recommendations of the ECI Working Groups on Various Aspects of Electoral Management, Common Cause submitted both general and specific comments on March 30, 2020. Along with our comments, we also submitted a ‘call to action’ document titled ‘Safeguarding Democracy from Digital Platforms,’ for increased regulation on the use of digital platforms for electoral campaigning. This was a follow up to the press conference organised by Common Cause on April 5, 2019, in collaboration with Constitutional Conduct, Internet Freedom Foundation, Free Software Movement of India, Association for Democratic Reforms, and many former public servants as well as former Chief Election Commissioners, Dr N. Gopalaswami and Dr S. Y. Quraishi.
Comments by Common Cause to the working groups’ recommendations included:
- The need to monitor and regulate expenditure and use of digital and online social and news media platforms by political parties.
- Repeal of Electoral Bonds to ensure elections remain free, fair and autonomous from undue corporate deal making and foreign influence.
- Transparency and accuracy in publication of election data by the ECI, and the recommendation to create a grievance cell for investigation of discrepancies in election data and for responding to the elector’s queries.
- Transparency in the appointment procedure of Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners via implementation of the recommendations of the 2002 Justice MN Venkatachaliah Commission.
- Ensuring democracy within political parties through increased oversight of the Election Commission.
- The need for expanding voter registration among less represented communities in the country.