Children to make sure their parents go to vote

Feb 18, 2014, 02:36 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

State election panel tells students to ask parents to sign letters bearing the pledge that they would cast the ballot in the upcoming general elections; if they forget, the kids will remind them

In a bid to enforce democracy by holding people accountable, the state election commission (SEC) has issued a fresh brainwave to increase voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

It is distributing ‘letters of commitment’ to parents of children studying in schools run by the Pune Municipal Corporation or the zilla parishad. The letter consists of an oath to exercise voting rights in the forthcoming polls, which has to be signed by the parents. It states that the signatories would not only go out to vote but also encourage others to do cast the ballot. The children are given the letters and asked to ensure that their parents endorse it.

Deputy election officer Apurva Wankhede said, “In the district, especially in urban areas, low voter turnout has been a major problem in the last few elections. The percentage of citizens who cast their votes has never crossed the figure of 50 per cent. Considering that the picture would not be very different in other parts of the state, the SEC has circulated commitment letters, which need to be filled out and endorsed by the parents of the schoolchildren.”

Kids, get your folks to vote: The children will help the state election commission ensure higher voter turnout in the district for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, say officials. Pic/Mohan Patil

The initiative hopes to convince the parents through their children to make the effort to vote. “If the parents show apathy or forget to vote, their children, who will report to the teachers to whom they submitted the commitment letters, would compel their parents to go out and vote,” said Wankhede.

However, not everyone is comfortable with this idea. Critics of the idea — education officers that prefer to remain anonymous, say that instead of forcing people to get out of their houses to vote, the SEC should come up with a system through which people can vote even while sitting at home.

“It is all right to motivate people to vote, but to compel them using such ways is not acceptable. However, as it is the SEC’s order, we will follow it,” said Pune Municipal Corporation’s primary education officer, Shivaji Daundkar.

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