EC campaign and media focus on governance could increase numbers at poll stations

Chennai Votes

Traditionally, the metro has had a lower voter turnout than the rest of the State in the Lok Sabha elections. While the 2009 polls saw the highest number of people coming out to vote in a General Election in recent times, the turnout at 62.8 per cent was lower when compared to the State, which registered 72.98 per cent.

State Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar says better voter turnout is linked to rising awareness. “In the 2011 assembly elections, the city registered 68 per cent turnout as against 2006, when it was 58.28 per cent. In 2006, the number of people in the electoral rolls fell and the next year, we launched a campaign.”

A concerted campaign by the Election Commission and consistent media attention on various issues of governance are expected to play a crucial role in increasing voter turnout even in the city.

Factors such as “cleaner electoral rolls, interest generated by the candidates and the Election Commission’s efforts to motivate people to vote,” are at work, says former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswami.

Former CEC T.S. Krishnamurthy adds, “Campaign efforts should be periodical. We have to do enough to make awareness programmes innovative.”

Improvement in voter turnout is also a message that democracy could return to people, says M.G. Devasagayam, convenor of Forum of Electoral Integrity. According to him, the option of NOTA (none of the above) signals that democracy will return to people.

“There is disappointment among voters in the way the Parliament and democracy are now functioning. Once you have a fair amount of people opting for NOTA, the next step would be the right to reject and then the right to recall,” he says.

Keywords: 2014 LS polls

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