BMC polls: Voting made easy, for the youth, by the youth
They tweeted, they Facebooked, they sent WhatsApp texts and shot videos.
Part of the credit for Mumbai’s historic voter turnout on Tuesday goes to the youth,who harnessed the power of the Internet to keep the focus on people getting inked.
Picture this: Nine lakh citizens checked for their names and polling booths in a web-link created by Operation Black Dot (OBD), a group of 30 under-30 individuals who collaborated with the Maharashtra State Election (SEC) to spread the message.
“Although we worked like a corporate set-up, we were a group of people who had a common motive. As the campaign was digitally driven, it was a lot more interesting for us to broadcast messages using social tools,” said Swaraj Shetty from OBD.
On Tuesday, 55.53% of the city’s registered voters exercised their franchise – significant not only because this was the highest voter turnout since 1992 in Mumbai, but also because Mumbai has never crossed the 50% mark in the BMC polls for 25 years.
While digital tools were used on a large-scale for the 2014 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections, this was the first time authorities decided to work with colleges, NGOs and the hotel and restaurants associations to ensure more Mumbaiites stepped out of their homes to vote.
A newly-formed citizen group, Free A Billion, asked people to come out and choose the None of the Above (NOTA) options if it did not believe in any of the candidates. The group used posters and videos to spread the message.
Biney Koul from Free A Billion said, “The use of social media has become important even for world politics. This is probably the first election where information about booths and voter lists were all available online, which made it easier for voters.”
Another group of college students ran the Vote for Mumbai campaign. The group partnered with Ola to give voters free rides from polling stations.
Surendra Jondhale, a political analyst, said, “The state election played a very crucial role by taking the campaign beyond the usual hoardings. It partnered with so many organisations and spread the message in the entire city.”