Initiatives to increase voter turnout gather pace

District administration aims to pull more voters to polling booths

As more than 50% of voters from affluent background tend to abstain from voting in any poll, the district administration has started organising awareness programmes to pull these educated electorate out of their houses towards the polling station on the day of election.

Election data available with the officials show that the sharp fall in polling percentage was due to the unenthusiastic affluent urban voters who are not prepared to stand in long queues to cast their votes while the enthusiasm shown by rural poor took the poll percentage to a decent figure. For instance, almost all rural polling stations recorded over 75% voter turnout in the 2016 Assembly polls and it crossed 90% in a few booths in Sankarankovil and Vasudevanallur constituencies.

However, the polling percentage was only 42% in the 2016 Assembly elections in Maharaja Nagar, an affluent area.

Consequently, more voter awareness programmes are to be conducted in these ‘grey areas’ and also in colleges. The Information and Public Relations department’s propaganda van, which would usually visit villages to popularise government’s welfare schemes, is now visiting colleges to persuade young voters to exercise their franchise.

When Collector Shilpa Prabhakar Satish visited Rosemary College for Women at Ponnaakudi near Palayamkottai on Thursday, the students, mostly first time voters, told her that they were, in fact, eagerly waiting to vote.

“We’ve got comprehensive data about the areas where low voter turnout was reported in previous elections. Awareness events will be conducted in these places repeatedly. Voter awareness campaigns like rangoli competitions, cultural programmes, skits, human chains, rallies and street-corner plays will be conducted to encourage the electorate to cast their votes on April 18,” said Ms. Shilpa.

In Thoothukudi, Collector Sandeep Nanduri, Corporation Commissioner V.P. Jayaseelan, Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha, Sub-Collector Simranjit, Assistant Collector (Training) Anu, District Revenue Officer M. Veerappan and senior officials led a voter awareness bike rally from Our Lady of Snows Basilica to the Collectorate.

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