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ECI conducts ‘Conference on Low Voter Turnout’


DIMAPUR, APRIL 5: Ahead of the polling in the ongoing General Elections 2024, Election Commission of India (ECI) has accelerated efforts to enhance voter turnout in Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) with a history of low poll participation in previous General Elections.
In a day long ‘Conference on Low Voter Turnout’ held today at Nirvachan Sadan, New Delhi, Municipal Commissioners from major cities and select District Election Officers (DEOs) from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh deliberated together to chart a path towards enhancing voter engagement and participation in identified urban and rural PCs. The Conference was chaired by Chief Election Commissioner, Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioners, Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu. On the occasion, a booklet on voter apathy was released by the Commission.
Eleven States/UTs namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, J&K and Jharkhand had a voter turnout lower than the national average of 67.40% in the 2019 General Elections to the Lok Sabha.
Out of the total 50 Rural PCs across 9 States identified with lower voter turnout than the national average in 2019, 40 PCs are from Uttar Pradesh (22 PCs) and Bihar (18PCs). In UP, 51- Phulpur PC recorded the lowest turnout of 48.7%, while in Bihar, 29-Nalanda PC recorded lowest turnout of 48.79%.
While addressing the Municipal Commissioners and DEOs, CEC Rajiv Kumar said that a total of 266 Parliamentary Constituencies ( 215 Rural & 51 Urban) with low voter turnout have been identified and all concerned Municipal Commissioners, DEOs and State CEOs have been called today to find ways to reach out to voters in targeted manner.
He emphasized on a 3-pronged strategy of providing facilitation at polling stations like queue management, shelter parking in congested areas; targeted outreach & communication; and involvement of critical stakeholders like RWAs, local icons and youth influencers to persuade people to come to polling stations.
CEC Kumar directed them to prepare a booth wise action plan for enhanced participation and behaviour change. He asked all MCs and DEOs to prepare different strategies for urban and rural areas and plan interventions accordingly for different target audiences. He emphasized that the “One size fits all” approach will not yield results.
CEC Kumar also urged the authorities to act in a manner that instills pride among the voters in participating in the democratic festivities. He called for a movement in which people are self-motivated to vote.
The conference, a collaborative effort between the ECI and key stakeholders, focused on crafting a comprehensive action plan to address voter apathy, streamline logistical operations, and increase voter turnout. Discussions were centered on critical issues such as optimizing queue management at polling stations, facilitating voting in high-rise buildings, and leveraging the influential Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.
With a keen emphasis on partnership and inclusivity, the ECI urged Municipal Commissioners and DEOs to actively contribute to the initiative. Urban specific hurdles to increased voter turnout were identified and targeted city specific interventions were planned and the officers were encouraged to develop tailored, region-specific outreach programmes that resonate with the unique needs and demographics of their constituencies. In line with this vision, the ECI outlined an array of innovative voter awareness campaigns under SVEEP.
Approximately 297 million eligible voters did not vote in the General Elections to Lok Sabha in 2019 underscoring the scale of the problem which calls for proactive measures. Furthermore, recent elections across various States have highlighted trends of urban apathy towards the electoral process, warranting targeted interventions and collaborative endeavours.
(Page News Service)