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EC ropes in banks, post offices to spread voter awareness ahead of LS polls

EC

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 26: The Election Commission on Monday roped in banks and post offices to spread voter awareness as part of its efforts to increase voting percentage in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The poll panel has often expressed concern over urban and youth apathy with many registered voters not turning up at the polling stations to cast ballot in the previous elections.
Over 30 crore of the 91 crore electors did not cast their ballot in the previous parliamentary polls.
The Election Commission (EC) on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with two prominent organizations ~ the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and the Department of Posts (DoP) ~ to amplify its voter outreach and awareness efforts ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The initiative, the poll panel said, is in continuation of its efforts to enhance electoral awareness in the country.
The EC had recently signed an MoU with the Ministry of Education to formally integrate electoral literacy into the educational curriculum of the schools and colleges.
The latest initiative has been taken based on insights and knowledge gained by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar from his past roles and experience working in the financial sector, particularly in the Indian banking sector and India Post Payments Banks, the officials pointed out.
As part of the MoU, the IBA and the DoP with its members and affiliated institutions will extend support in promoting voter education through their extensive network on a pro bono without charge basis, employing various interventions to empower the citizens with knowledge about their electoral rights, processes and steps for registration and voting.
The members and affiliated institutions will now display voter education messages prominently on their websites, directing visitors to learn more about the electoral process.
Voter education content will be disseminated through various promotional channels such as social media and customer outreach platforms of member institutions, ensuring widespread awareness among stakeholders and the public, the EC said.
Voter education messages will also be displayed in the form of posters, flex and hoardings at office premises at major locations, reaching the customers at key touchpoints.
All member institutions under the IBA and the DoP will establish ‘voter awareness for a’ to engage the employees and customers in discussions and initiatives related to voter education.
The Department of Posts will affix a special cancellation stamp (bearing voter education messages) on the postal articles.
“Despite successfully managing and conducting elections by the Election Commission over the years in a fair and peaceful way along with a significant increase in participation of the electors, there is also a concern that around 30 crore electors, out of 91 crore, did not cast their votes in general election to Lok Sabha 2019. The voting percentage was 67.4%, which the Commission has taken as a challenge to improve upon”, the EC said.
The Indian Banks’ Association now has a strong network of 247 members across the country. Public sector banks are in lead with 90,000+ branches and 1.36 lakh ATMs followed by 42,000+ branches of private sector banks with 79,000+ ATMs.
Regional rural banks contribute over 22,400 branches, while small finance and payment banks operate around 7,000 branches and more than 3,000 ATMs.
Foreign banks maintain 840 branches and 1,158 ATMs, and local area banks have 81 branches.
“The cumulative number of the branches are over 1.63 lakh with more than 2.19 lakh ATMs across the country”, the poll authority pointed out. (PTI)

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