Will the series of campaigns on voter registrations pay dividends and up the turnout?

Coming as it does after a series of campaigns to enrol voters and calls to the electorate in Bangalore to exercise their franchise, polling will be held to 28 Assembly constituencies in city today, amidst hopes of an increased voter turnout.

Given the poor turnout of voters in Bangalore during successive elections in the last three decades — the percentage of voting in Bangalore was 47.3 in the 2008 Assembly polls — a number of voluntary organisations came forward to not only create awareness among voters, but also to organise voter registration camps to enrol new voters.

New voters

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Siddaiah, who is also the District Election Officer, said 13 lakh voters had been added to the electoral rolls here, taking the total number of eligible voters to 70.3 lakh.

The election officials had set up 7,258 polling stations across the city.

Arrangements in place

City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H. Auradkar said 21,000 police personnel, including Central armed forces, would be deployed across the city.

In addition, 1,000 civil defence wardens will act as special police officials on the polling day.

The police have identified 2,153 polling stations as sensitive and 1,782 as hyper sensitive. Also, they have identified 276 areas as vulnerable and installed about 256 CCTV cameras to monitor law and order during the elections.

Reaching out

Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), a citizen’s collective that organised, along with Election Commission officials, voter registration camps, is hopeful that voter turnout in Bangalore will improve.

B.PAC coordinator Sharath S.R. told The Hindu that volunteers of their group organised multiple voter registration camps at apartment complexes, workplaces and educational campuses to aggressively drive voter enrolment.

“Besides, we have reached thousands of people by email asking them to vote. We have also carried on our website a link of the Election Commission’s website, to facilitate voters to identify the polling station where they need to vote,” he said.

P.G. Bhat, a retired naval officer who has been actively campaigning for voter registration, is also hopeful of a better turnout on Sunday. “A lot of people have been sensitised to vote this time. With more than 13 lakh voters being enrolled in the last four months, the voting percentage could go up.”

Apart from B.PAC, organisations such as Smart Vote as well as residential welfare associations had actively campaigned for increasing voter enrolment and awareness, he said. “A lot of educated professionals, particularly from other States, who had not registered themselves as voters till now, have been enrolled now due to these exercises,” he added.