Will more people turn up at poll booths?

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The voter turnout in the city during the previous Assembly elections stood at 58.27 per cent, which was the highest recorded in the recent past. However, this was way lower than the State average of 70.23 per cent. With Lok Sabha elections now round the corner, there is an effort to enthuse more people to turn out at the polling booths on April 17.

Efforts are currently on to encourage citizens eligible to vote to register their names in the electoral rolls. The eligible voters have been given time till March 16 to enrol their names.

According to information made available by the office of the District Election Officer, 72.62 lakh voters were enrolled as on January 31, 2014.

This, even though the population of those aged above 18 years as per the projected census is 93.39 lakh. The largest gap, strikingly, is among citizens aged between 18 years and 19 years. Though the population of citizens in this age bracket is projected at 3.43 lakh, only 90,684 had enrolled as on January 31.

With five days left for registration to end, authorities are hoping to bridge this gap. K.R. Niranjan, Special Commissioner (Elections), told The Hindu the special registration drive held on Sunday was well received.

The total registration on that single day was almost 80,000.

He said that for the first time, an observer had been appointed to monitor the awareness campaigns taken up under Election Commission of India’s Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.

“There is also debate and discussion in society about the importance of voting. This has led to more people coming forward and getting themselves registered. We are fairly certain that this will translate into a good voter turnout.”

He said that the “NOTA” option (none of the above) on the EVMs will also draw those who do not want to vote for the candidates fielded by the various political parties and therefore do not turn up to vote.

P.G. Bhat, social activist, attributed the low voter turnout to the apathy of officials in not correcting the voters’ list.

He pointed out that the voters’ list had rampant duplicate records and claimed that nearly 15 per cent were duplicate entries. The voter turnout can be correctly calculated only if the voters’ list is free of duplication.

“We first need a reliable base on which the voter turnout can be calculated. As per the ECI regulations, the voters’ list should be free of duplication. If the percentage of deletion is more than two and addition is more than four at the booth-level, it should be investigated. However, this is not done,” he said.

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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