Other States

How a U.P. district tried to boost voter turnout

Officials made repeated visits to residents’ homes, reached out to migrant workers

With a goal to increase voter turnout to above 90% in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, an Uttar Pradesh district, Banda, tried everything from repeated visits to the homes of residents, who agreed to vote on the condition that the officials stop appearing at their doorsteps, to reaching out to electors forced to leave the district in search of livelihood.

Recounting the steps by the administration, Banda District Magistrate Heera Lal said here at a discussion organised by the Centre for Policy Research that the goal of reaching 90% turnout was set after looking at two villages that had crossed that figure in the 2015 panchayat elections.

The district administration used the cultural traditions of the Bundelkhand region to communicate the importance of voting. The DM said 471 magic shows and other cultural shows were held. Around 20,000 letters signed by the DM were sent to the residents.

“Officials were asked to adopt one booth. I adopted one as well. Each voter must have been visited by 10 people. By the end of it they said ‘we’ll vote, just stop these visits’,” he said.

While the turnout was much lower than the goal at 63.24%, the DM said it was the highest for the district which had seen 52.69% in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. One of the reasons, he said, for the inability to bridge the gap was the economic compulsions of migrant workers who could not return to cast their votes on May 6 due to the potential of loss of pay.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:25:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/how-a-up-district-tried-to-boost-voter-turnout/article29693902.ece

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