The Election Commission will deploy voters’ awareness observers in all districts for enhancing voter participation in the elections to the Legislative Assembly.

Director-General, Election Commission, Akshay Rout, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the observers would be deployed a week before the polling day (May 5).

The commission has already decided to deploy general, micro, expenditure and police observers in the districts to ensure free and fair elections.

The awareness observers will take stock of Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme. The SVEEP, which was launched in 2009, handles the work related to increasing voter awareness and their education, aimed at improving the electoral participation.

The commission is appointing voters’ awareness observers for the first time in Karnataka to increase the turnout. The polling percentage in 2008 Assembly polls was 64.68. The main objective of observers is to spread awareness about voting, particularly on electronic voting machines (EVMs), in rural areas.

A senior State government official would be posted to each district. He would get support from a junior IAS officer to take up awareness programmes under the SVEEP plan. The State Information Department too would be roped in for technical support, Mr. Rout added.

Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said chief executive officers of zilla panchayats had been instructed on the launch of a multi-media SVEEP campaign for enhancing voter participation.

The observers would evaluate the impact of voter awareness campaigns launched in the State. They would check if voters were aware about the use of EVMs, registration in electoral rolls, the Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC), ethical voting and paid news in the media.

They would check whether all voters had received voter slips from election authorities and were aware of special awareness campaigns run for voter registration and EPIC in their Assembly constituency so far.

The observers would tour districts to interact with voters and assess their awareness about the date and poll timings, and location of polling stations in their constituency. Most importantly, they would examine whether the voters appeared motivated enough to go and cast their votes, the Director-General said.

Observers will have to submit their reports to the CEO, who in turn, would send a report to the Election Commission.

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