In a circular distributed to several districts in Maharashtra, the commission purposely suggested to the Pune district election department to find 10 per cent of these polling booths where the voting ratio was very stunted during the previous elections.
The commission has also asked its district office to find a reason for the low turnout and send a report along with what plan of action the department is taking to woo voters so they participate in the polling.
The commission, under its programme SVEEP (Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation) has for the first time initiated a process to address the issue of voter apathy in the district where turnout during the last general election was only 40.66 per cent. In the 2009 assembly polls, only 45 per cent of the eligible populace voted.
“The commission has asked us to submit a plan of action after a survey of all the polling booths in 21 assembly segments in the district and then pick 10 per cent of such polling booths where voting ratio was extremely low during the last general and assembly elections. Not only this, our staff would try to find out the cause for low voting ratio and will submit a strategy to improve this.
The instance of overlapping of any festival or natural calamity with the voting day, if any, would also be verified,” said deputy district election officer Apurva Wankhede.
She added that any episodes of hooliganism of anti-social elements at polling booths that may have deterred voters would also be looked up. The department would submit a draft of the survey to district collector Vikas Deshmukh on June 15.
After the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, a Mumbai-based organisation, Rambhau Mhalgi Probodhini, had carried out a review in the city to determine the causes of low voting ratio. During this study, citizens cited issues like names missing from voters’ list, plain laziness, heat, lack of good candidates and personal work that kept them away from voting. About 45 per cent of the people also cited mismanagement of electoral rolls as the reason why they could not vote.
However, it is interesting to note that the district election department, which has not been able to hasten the process of updating photos on voters’ registration list in time, intends to submit a draft of the entire initiative in the next three days.