Experience Trial voting through Virtual Reality in Kamrup election district

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In an effort to ensure maximum voter participation in the upcoming Lok Sabha election on May 7, the Kamrup Election District which has been launching a slew of innovative initiatives has today organized trial voting using virtual reality technology. This pioneering initiative taken up for the first time in India aims to provide a virtual walk through the actual polling process.

Under the guidance of Kamrup District Commissioner and District Election Officer Keerthi Jalli, this initiative was inaugurated at Dakhin Kamrup College in Kamrup District as part of the Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) initiative.
Speaking on the occasion, Kamrup District Commissioner Keerthi Jalli emphasized the significance of utilizing cutting-edge technology to engage the youth in democracy and make the voting process more captivating. She described the event as a dry run before the actual voting process, providing participants a virtual glimpse into a polling station and guiding them through the voting procedure.

The students were given Oculus Headsets with jockey sticks to enable them to walk through. With an aim to familiarize people with the actual polling process and alleviate any apprehensions or confusion they may have, students were made to walk through starting from entrance of the polling station. The software in an interactive female voice was then directing the user to choose Male/Female and join the correct Queue. Next it displayed a menu of documents where the user had to click which document he has brought as ID proof. After choosing one, the user is allowed to enter the actual Polling room by a guard. The first polling officers asks the user to submit the document he is carrying and verifies it. After verified OK the user moves ahead to second polling officers table. The simulation then asks the user to place hand on table for marking left index. The user is given a voter slip taking which he can move to third Polling officer who then allows the user to go into secret compartment to cast his vote. The simulation ends with the user being encouraged to click a selfie with his index figure.

The hall was filled with giggles as the wearers of the headsets were walking weirdly and bumping into tables. Walking through the entire simulation, the user gets to really understand what the real version of polling entails. Explaining about voter ID card and the additional documents allowed by ECI, the voter was made to understand what the request of ‘please vote’ actually entails.

The concept of trial voting through virtual reality technology was developed by the Kamrup District Administration with Dr Keyur Sorathia, Associate Professor of Dept of Design, IIT Guwahati. Underscoring the significance of leveraging advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality for educational purposes, he said that VR potential to immerse youth in various design processes is immense. He spoke to students about newer job opportunities opening up in these fields that they could pursue.

“It was an amazing experience for us. It was fun and at the same time, satisfying that at the end I could cast my vote” said Jaya Das, a first-time voter in the college.

“I now feel confident in casting my vote as I understood what the first, second and third Polling Officers actually do and what the process entails” said Animesh Narayan Das, a student said.

The event was attended by various dignitaries, including Boko Circle Officer (A) Soma Roy and Inspector of Schools, Kamrup Tapan Kalita.

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