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EC, citizens' groups goes extra mile to improve voter turnout

Friday, February 17, 2017
By Raju Vernekar

While the state election commission is making every effort to increase the voting percentage in ongoing elections by adopting different means, including Mahavoter Chatbot on Facebook messenger, asking voters to make a pledge to vote, even different citizens’ groups are trying to create voter awareness through social media and other modes.

“We will start a campaign through 'Operation Black Dot' within a couple of days to create voter awareness through collective appeal, the apathy towards voting can be minimised. This is an ongoing process and we will have to continue till such time people shed 'Chalta Hai' (it's fine) attitude. We will make voters aware that even one vote makes a lot of difference,” said Preeti Sharma Menon, former office bearer of the Aam Admi Party.

“Operation Black Dot is an apolitical initiative aimed at making voting procedure easy, engaging and fun. As a movement, we aim to bring about a change in the mindset of voters, by using a variety of platforms to achieve the objective of increased voter participation in the municipal election,” said Menon.

“In 2012 BMC elections, out of a total population of approximately 2,10,00,000 people, only 43,00,000 (i.e. about 20% of the city’s population) Mumbaikars voted. This year, our aim is to transform the political dialogue such that voting in municipal elections becomes relevant for the ‘under-23’ demographic and other first-time voters,” she added.

Sherley Singh, Secretary of the Juhu Scheme Residents Association (JSRA) said, “The JSRA has already been making efforts to create awareness about voting. Besides, Juhu area has a distinction of being the first locality from where citizens’ candidates were elected as the corporators in the last two BMC elections. Today everyone is aware that they have to approach their corporators for their civic needs. Even though Juhu area is known for bungalows, however, it is a mix of slum pockets, bungalows, and high-rise apartments.”

While the city's current population is 1,24,42,373, the number of voters in the city has decreased. In 2012, the city had 1,02,86,579 voters, and in 2017, the voter population has gone down to 91,20,811. The voting percentage in 2002 BMC election was 43.25 percent. It rose to 46.05 percent in 2007 elections. However, in 2012 it again came down to 44.75 per cent.

In the meanwhile, certain social groups in Nashik have begun appealing voters through social media urging them to vote saying that the black dot (indelible mark on finger) will not taint them but will make them proud.

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