In a first for Uttarakhand, the state election department is planning to set up more than a dozen all-woman polling stations to increase the participation of women voters in the upcoming assembly polls.
At least one polling booth, entirely managed by women officials, is being planned in each of the state’s 13 districts, election officials said.
The move has come following a directive by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
“Initially, we are asking the district magistrates or district election officers to begin preparations for setting up at least one all-woman polling station in each district. Later, we will try to introduce more (such polling stations), if possible,” Radha Raturi, chief electoral officer of Uttarakhand, told HT.
Such polling stations are meant to be model polling stations, where the entire polling process is managed exclusively by women officials, besides having women security personnel and volunteers on board.
Activists have welcomed the decision saying that the setting up of all-woman polling facilities may go a long way in increasing the overall participation of women voters. During the 2012 assembly polls, women’s polling percentage was around 68.12% against 64.41% by their male counterparts. However, there were many areas that accounted for a poor voters’ turnout among women.
“Such a step will not only make the voting process much more convenient, hassle-free and secure for women, but will also pull more and more (otherwise unwilling) women electors to the polling booths, especially in the remote areas,” said Seema Tiwari, a women’s rights activist based in Pithoragarh district.
According to the latest figures of the department, women voters constitute around 46% of the electorate.
Total number of voters -73,81,000
(Source: State election department)