Ratio of women in electorate was only 788 women per 1,000 men in 2012

Reaching out to women and youth like never before, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer has increased enrolment of these groups and is now hoping to bring them into the polling booth through another concerted campaign ahead of the Assembly elections later this year.

Among the youth, it has targeted 18 and 19 year olds in schools and colleges through a special drive and has managed to enrol the highest percentage of youth per total electorate thus far.

“Till 2012, only 0.7 per cent of the total electorate or about 98,000 youth were enrolled as voters. But through concerted efforts this figure now stands at 3,54,078 as of August 27 and constitutes about 3.1 per cent of the total electorate,” said Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Kumar Dev.

For the purpose of enlisting a higher percentage of youth, the election body took the database of schools and colleges, appointed “campus ambassadors” and took the help of the National Service Scheme to reach out to prospective young voters.

“We also made an emotional appeal to them that their campaigns should not be restricted to candlelight marches alone. Rather, they should use their energy for strengthening the democratic process. We are also appealing to them to come out in large numbers on the polling day,” the Chief Electoral Officer added. Similarly in the case of women, Mr. Dev said it was discovered in 2012 that the ratio of women in the electorate was only 788 women per 1,000 men.

“We have been able to increase this to 805 as on date,” he said, adding that this was made possible through the conduct of special camps in low gender ratio areas.

“We realised that low enrolment of women had to do with the traditional outlook of the people in the area, their dependence on male members and their hesitation to deal with male staff. Besides, in some cases, it is also seen that people in the household do not want the women to have election identity card as they fear it will give them greater rights in the property. So, we conducted some camps with only female staff drawn from the surrounding areas and distributed voter identity cards.”

Stating that this has had a huge difference in the turnout of women for enrolment, Mr. Dev said areas that benefited the most include some which border Haryana.

As on date, he pointed out, the lowest gender ratio is at Tughlakabad (636); Sangam Vihar (674) and Badarpur (706), while the highest is at Tilak Nagar (936), Shakur Basti (935) and Rohini (912).

The Commission is hopeful of enrolling more people by the time the elections take place.

“By September 8-9, the summary revision of rolls will be over and then we will pause for the Assembly elections. As of now, about 2,000 enrolment camps are functional across Delhi. During the coming months, voters will still be able to register but will have to go to the voter centre — just 70 of them [one per Assembly segment].”

As per the law and the interpretation provided by the Supreme Court, Mr. Dev said: “There can only be one blackout period during which no new voters are enrolled — this is when the actual conduct of the elections is on and that is from the last date of filing of nominations till the time the results are announced.”

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