Until recently, N. Vinoth was just another final-year engineering student in Melmaruvathur, but his selection as the Election Commission of India’s campus ambassador has been a transformational experience.
“Initially, my friends were jealous, but when they realised that I am there to help them cross the crucial stage of getting an identity proof without much trouble, they cheered me,” Vinoth said.
Vinoth, a computer science and engineering student at Adhiparasakthi Engineering College, Melmaruvathur, was appointed campus ambassador under Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (phase-II) programme. The ECI decided to appoint students in universities and colleges as campus ambassadors to double the percentage of enrolment in the newly eligible 18-19 age group from the existing 35-40 percent.
“My friends and I realised that it would be a good idea to apply for the Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) when we were in college rather than hurry later when we need it while applying for competitive exams,” he said.
However, he and G. Lavanya Bharathi, a final-year student who is also a campus ambassador, were taken aback when District Election Wing officials directed them to collect and forward applications for name inclusion in voter list from students hailing from Cheyyur taluk only.
“When we asked officials, we were told that students hailing from other taluks or districts or even other States could opt for online voter name registration facility”, said Lavanya.
“Further, they told us that the relevant original documents could be produced by the relatives of the students during the time of verification at their respective native places or a specific date could be fixed by the applicant so that he or she could be present physically”, Vinoth explained. This was really useful as most of the students, including Vinoth, who were not residents of Cheyyur taluk, preferred online registration.
The campus ambassadors of Sri Malolan College of Arts and Science, Madurantakam are also active.
Kanaga of Madurantakam and Siva of Edaiyalam hamlet near Madurantakam, who are pursuing B.C.A and B.Sc. (mathematics) courses respectively, said that apart from acting as ambassadors within their college premises, they had created awareness about advantages of getting enrolled in voter list and getting the mistakes in EPIC corrected, among their relatives and friends in their neighbourhood.