Google’s effort to provide updates on elections polls with live counting of votes in India is commendable, but it failed to meet its ‘accurate result’ promise in many top cities.
Google launched the ‘Live Results Map’ and ‘Live Counting Day YouTube Newscasts’ to keep the citizens of India and many others in various countries following the General Elections carefully, abreast of the results – something that has gone to create history in India by giving an absolute majority to a single party (in this case right-wing Bharatiya Janta Party) almost after 25 years.
The Live Results Map aimed to allow internet users to view both, nationwide party results and constituency level results across all 543 constituencies as soon as they are declared through the day. Live YouTube Newscasts enabled to watch live streams from leading news channels.
While the YouTube channel worked fine, it was the Map feature that was problematic. The way it worked was that people just had to put in an area PIN code (postal code) and the page would immediately show the status of votes in that ward. So for example, if you are a resident of Hiranandani Powai in Mumbai, all you had to do was put in the PIN code 400076 and the page would display, which party was leading and by how much per cent. Here is where the glitch appeared. It showed that one party had 100 per cent votes, while all others had zero. In Powai’s case it showed 100 per cent votes went to BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party). Similarly, for Kalbadevi in South Mumbai, it showed 100 per cent votes going to Shiv Sena. This stands true for about 20-odd PIN codes that this author tried for Mumbai.
PIN codes of national capital Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad worked fine and showed the right results.
However, many PIN codes in Chennai, Kolkata and Jaipur showed the same glitch as Mumbai.
The internet has played an unprecedented role in General Elections of 2014 in India. Never before have we seen social media used to influence the public votes as this time. With over 200 million internet users in the country, we are not surprised. To give you an idea, Modi has 4.04 million Twitter followers and his tweet on winning the elections was retweeted more than 50,000 times in about an hour.
He has 14.47 million likes on his Facebook page and a special victory wall for people to congratulate him. India has never seen this before. Considering ‘Super Friday’ was Google’s first such attempt, we think it was a fairly decent effort.
In an official release, earlier, Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India, stated, “This election, the internet has been a catalyst and provided a great platform for political parties to leverage the power of social media to interact and mobilise young India to go out and vote. Google has received more than three million pledges by voters post our ‘Pledge to Vote’ campaign and an incredible response to the 16 Hangouts by various political leaders during the election campaign.”
Another thing that begs a mention is the special doodle that Google India created for May 16. It cannot ignore the votes counting day in India, after all, it is the largest democracy in the world.