Feb 28, 2019
3 min read
Voter Education In The Mobile Age
With the elections around the corner, efforts are underway to ensure citizens receive relevant, personalized messaging, messaging that they can comfortably understand. Localization can play a key role in enabling this.
Voter education remains critical in ensuring citizens know their voter rights, what different candidates are offering, how to vote, and more. Now that over 800 millions Indians have digital devices, digital communications offer an easy platform for rapid mass communication. What better way to communicate with most Indians, than by using the same devices they use on a daily basis?
The elections in 2014 saw a turnout of 65.4%, translating to more than 700 million voters. 2019 could see even higher turnout, aided by communications on now nearly omnipresent digital devices.
Election bodies can contact Indians through their devices, helping with the logistics of the elections. This is in line with the Digital India initiative and its growth, as more and more government services and information become available online.
Language Support & Mass Messaging Citizens
However, most of these platforms and services are primarily available in English online, with limited Indian language support. Most Indian voters are not familiar with English, and these platforms are not inclusive of them. Indian language support will help change this, as well as introduce them to a new scope of possible government-citizen interactions.
Localizing mass volumes of content for digital platforms, cross platform communication, as well as offline digital platforms like kiosks and help desks can be significantly sped up through Indic machine translation, with manual quality checking carried out to ensure the accuracy of these translations. Cross channel communication modes include SMS, email, push notifications, desktop notifications, and more.
Digital platforms like websites and apps should feature end-to-end localization in all major Indian languages, with no breaks in experience. While static content is generally translated, dynamic content usually requires transliteration in real time. All parts of the user flow, from drop down menus, to options, to confirmation screens, should be available in these languages. At no point should a user see English content if they have picked an Indian language. This will cause the user to drop off, breaking their user flow.
Enabling Citizen Feedback Collection And More With Indic Text & Voice Input
In addition, these platforms must support text and voice input in Indic languages. This is to allow citizens to interact with platforms, as well as send feedback, reports, and queries to election bodies in their own language. Without this language support, citizens will not be able to comfortably interact with platforms. Such feedback collection will be limited to English speakers. Voice support adds the advantage of increased convenience, from voice input, to Indic speech-to-text solutions swiftly transcribing calls and voice input for processing.
A dedicated hotline is usually available for queries, feedback, or complaints, and an Indic voice bot can walk citizens through the process of availing these services by receiving responses and then taking actions accordingly. If a user calls and says they want to find a local polling booth, the bot will understand this query, find the nearest booth, and communicate it back to them within a couple of minutes.
Indic voice bots can also be used with platforms to walk citizens through a variety of different requirements, from registering for voters ID, to finding local candidates. These bots can communicate with users, asking them for their required information, as well as giving them options to choose from. This helps Indian language users who are not familiar with digital platforms find what they are looking for, and carry out their required action.
Interpreting Voter Data Through Indian Languages
Voter data, pertaining to demographics and electoral rolls, must be made available in Indian languages. These data points, like names, addresses, and more, can be localised in advance in all supported languages, quality checked, and kept ready for use by officials or voters. In addition, these databases need to support multilingual search and Indic input, allowing users to search for strings in Indian languages while also having the option to type in their own script.
Dashboards that record data should also be localized in all languages, allowing officials to interpret and analyse this data for themselves, in their own language. This can also be used to generate and print voter lists in various languages.
All in all, language has a role to play in every step of the process, before elections, during elections, and after them. Pre election elements including enabling mass voter education and disseminating information to hundreds of millions of voters with digital devices. Elements during elections include providing localized platforms for voters, enabling interactive interfaces, and maintaining databases officials can use. Post election elements mainly revolve around collecting feedback from citizens. Indic language technology ensures linguistic inclusion, driving greater civic inclusion.