Despite the Election Commission intensifying its measures for closer monitoring of election campaign, a section of voters in Tamil Nadu — over one-fourth of voters — cites “intimidation, distribution of money and freebies” as the factors for higher turnout. 

At the same time, around 70 per cent of the voters identified credentials of candidates as the key factor.

These two aspects form important findings of a survey, commissioned by the State Elections Department and carried out by the State Evaluation and Applied Research Department in July. Results of the survey — KABP (Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour and Practice of Voters) Baseline Survey — have now been released. 

Of the 4,598 respondents who had voted in both the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 2011 Assembly polls, 1,292 respondents, representing 28 per cent, pointed to intimidation, distribution of money and freebies as the factors (which influenced their voting behaviour). For the remaining 72 per cent of the voters, credentials of candidates were important.

Totally, 4,875 persons at a rate of 125 persons per Assembly segment were interviewed as part of the survey. Thirty nine Assembly segments, across all the 32 districts and 39 Lok Sabha constituencies were chosen.

They included seven reserved segments. Multi-stage random sampling technique was adopted in selecting the constituencies and respondents.

Such a survey has been held in the State before the Lok Sabha polls for the first time.

At the time of Assembly elections in April 2011, both baseline and end-line surveys were conducted in 2010-2011.

As for the reasons for the voters to cast their votes in the previous elections, 69 per cent of the people said it was their “duty and right” to do so and 56 per cent referred to the distribution of voter slips. Around 11 to 12 per cent identified “conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections” and “Election Commission’s repeated appeal and advertisements” as the reasons.

Of the 277 respondents who did not vote in the previous polls, a majority of them adverted to non-possession of elector photo identity cards and non-inclusion of their names in electoral rolls as the main factor. Only 47 of these respondents cited apathy as the key factor for not exercising their franchise.

As regards the effective role played by different segments of the media in disseminating information regarding the Election Commission, 66 per cent of the 3,187 respondents, who were aware of the Commission’s activities, opted for newspapers. Private television channels came next with 59 per cent and the Doordarshan was in the third slot with 33 per cent.

Among the suggestions mentioned in the survey report were the formation of election intelligence wing for each Assembly constituency, greater popularisation of online registration of people as electors and enhanced push to various measures for creating confidence among the public regarding the electoral process.

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