Activists pressing for electoral reforms have lauded the Election Commission’s Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme, which aims to increase voter awareness and participation in the State.
Of late, voter participation has been particularly dismal, especially in urban constituencies. In fact, the recent urban local body elections to the Mysore City Corporation Council saw a turnout of 52 per cent.
With a view to increase polling percentage to at least 75 per cent in the May 5 polls to the State Assembly, the EC has taken various steps, including roping in celebrities such as Puneeth Rajkumar and Ramesh Aravind, to motivate people to exercise their franchise.
SVEEP Nodal Officer A.R. Prakash told The Hindu that a film on voting rights and the importance of voting would be screened soon.
Drawing new young voters has been the biggest challenge for the EC. With the support of voluntary organisations, it has designed several programmes to sensitise young voters about their role in electoral process.
Vasanthkumar Mysoremath, convener of the Voter Awareness Movement, Mysore, who has often called for electoral reform and voter education programmes for college students to ensure their participation, welcomed the EC’s campaign. He conducted similar awareness movements for the previous Assembly elections.
Mr. Mysoremath said that the youth seemed serious about the elections and the concept of good governance. “During my interactions with students in various colleges, I noticed a drive in them to participate in the election process. Coupled with the EC’s campaign, I am confident that the youth will make a difference in the coming elections,” he said.
Describing the youth as “doctors of democracy”, he said: “the country’s future lies in the hands of young voters.”
Mr. Mysoremath conducted a workshop at Mahajana College here, on the ‘Youth’s role in good governance’ last year. He felt that the youth had not shown any interest in voting. “The indifference must go. I am sure of seeing some change this time,” he said.
The EC is also promoting a new programme called Youth United for Voter Awareness (YUVA), with a 10-point strategy to ensure better participation by the youth.
Can special incentives attract voters? Mr. Mysoremath felt that some incentives could prevent people from being apathetic and cynical, and encourage them to vote. “Make voting compulsory or incentivising voting,” he suggested.
A film on the right to vote to be screened soon