Indian General Elections 2014 With Social Mobile Apps
A person who has never voted in the past 20 years, since the time I became eligible for voting, writing this article is oxymoronic. Looking back, I can justify that I had been shifting places so regularly that I never found time to register myself. That the process of registering is cumbersome. But nothing can hide the truth that maybe I was plain lazy..to get up, get going and vote. It could also be that I never believed the political class doing any good for me and why I should waste my time. With NOTA option available this time, I lose this argument too
Apps in their true sense are nothing but access points to specific information or interaction that will satisfy a specific need. For any app to be successful it is necessary for us to identify the actual need of the user and then go ahead and fulfill that need
Need identification: Why do people vote?
A wonderful article by Satoshi Kanazawa ( Satoshi Kanazawa), an evolutionary psychologist at London School of Economics gives 2 prominent reasons on why people vote. While he argues it is an irrational act, reading the article, I believe that there are 2 perceived components to why people vote:
The rational part comes from the fact that we the citizens are made to believe that voting is our civic duty. And it is our responsibility to fulfill this civic duty and elect representatives to govern us and provide us with security (political, economic, social, etc).
For the emotional part, we all know that our singular vote will have no effect on the outcome of the election. Yet, if everyone thinks in the same way, then the whole democratic setup will collapse. Satoshi, goes on to explain about a concept of Magical Thinking. People often believe that what they do or how they think influences other people and others will think and behave like they do.
The Target audience: Whom do we talk to?
The following are the kinds of audience, that the app needs to help:
- Eligible for voting but don’t have voters ID
- Enable them with information on how to register and get their voter’s ID and track their application status
- Have voter’s ID, not interested in voting
- Empower them with information about why to vote, where to vote, when to vote, etc
- Will vote, but passive in nature
- Empower them with tools so that they can discuss and influence people on voting (An election reality in India is that most of the voting takes place en bloc - religion, caste, community, etc);
Basis the above premises, a social media app with the following features and functionality is recommended:
- Needs to be multi-lingual and multi format (text, speech, video)
- For Pre-Voter
- Information about how to register
- Track their Voter’s ID status
- Discussion forum on answering queries - which circle, constituency, ERO office etc)
- For Voter
- Information about the election dates, venue, timings, etc
- Information about candidates and the party manifesto in an non-biased manner
- Discussion forum encouraging people to generate content about the candidates, their expectations, etc
- Creating groups to form en bloc of audience based on their mutual interests and grievances
- Post Election relevancy
- The app should also be relevant in the lives of the user post elections. The idea is to share the responsibility of having voted someone to power, to keep then engaged with the elected representative and give them ground-up information and a channel of communication.
To make the app more user friendly, we can incorporate peripheral features related to the topic. Example: Game such as - drop by drop: how each vote can make a difference; Car pool app: identify people going to same polling booth from same location, etc
NOTA or YESTA, this time I shall vote. Promise
image courtesy: brownpundits.com