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EC’s awareness initiative boosted voter turnout

india Updated: Dec 01, 2013 01:25 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chhattisgarh voter turnout

Voting crossing 83% in Maoist-hit Bastar region of Chhattisgarh for the first time and up by 50% increase in many traditionally low franchise areas this polls show that the Election Commission’s efforts to bring out voters has worked to some extent.

The Election Commission for the first time appointed awareness observers in the five poll bound states and also identified 10% polling stations with lowest voter turn-out in 2008 elections for “special” focus. “The observers were told to put in an extra effort to make people come out to vote in low turnout areas,” a senior Election Commission official said.

Just one-fourth of voters came out of their homes to vote in Maoist-hit Bijapur in 2008. Five years down the line, the percentage was close to half even though the Naxal had called for poll boycott. The higher voter turn-out was also reported from other Maoist-affected areas with Chitrakot witnessing about 13 percentage point increase and Bastar constituency crossing 83%. Even in most of the non- Maoist affected areas in Chhattisgarh, except Raipur, the voting percentage increased.

The commission had appointed eight awareness observers for the state. Sending over a dozen awareness observers in Madhya Pradesh for areas that reported low polling in 2008, bore fruit. Indore, which recorded just 60% polling in 2008, reported over 70% voting this time around.

Similarly, higher voter turnout was reported from rural areas in Guna, Gwalior, Dewas and Jabua districts, just to name a few.

In Mizoram, which has seen high voter turn-outs, the appointment of two awareness observers had positive bearings.

The measures would also be tested in Rajasthan, which is going to polls this Sunday and Delhi next week, the EC officials say. In 2008, Rajasthan recorded 66.25% whereas Delhi witnessed a dismal turnout of 57.61%.