Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Launches Cam­paign to Woo Ser­vice­men

Drive to be on till Nov; there are over 20 lakh de­fence & para­mil­i­tary per­son­nel in In­dia

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Aan­chal.Bansal @times­group.com

New Delhi: In a bid to en­cour­age vot­ers in the ser­vices cat­e­gory—mainly de­fence per­son­nel and para mil­i­tary forces, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC) has launched a drive to urge them to sign up in elec­toral rolls.

EC of­fi­cials said a spe­cial drive till Novem­ber has been launched after the re­cently held Assem­bly elec­tions in states like Pun­jab and Ut­trak­hand saw a very poor voter turnout in this cat­e­gory. While the EC had al­lowed vot­ing through E-bal­lots in the assem­bly elec­tions in Pun­jab, Ut­trak­hand and Ut­tar Pradesh ear­lier this year, of­fi­cials said the voter turnout has so far been very low at a mere 10% per­cent so far. “Both Pun­jab and Ut­tarak­hand have a size­able num­ber of vot­ers in the ser­vices cat­e­gory and we had hoped that the in­tro­duc­tion of E-bal­lots would help in get­ting vot­ers to vote. But this has not hap­pened,” an of­fi­cial said.

While there are over 20 lakh de­fence and para­mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the REA­SONS

DE­SPITE THE IN­TRO­DUC­TION OF

E-bal­lots in Pun­jab, Ut­tarak­hand and Ut­tar Pradesh assem­bly polls, voter turnout was at a mere 10%

and even deaths on duty hin­der up­keep of records coun­try, the first pi­lot of the one-sided E-bal­lot sys­tem, in which the voter can down­load the bal­lot pa­per sent by EC via email and mail it back by post after after cast­ing his or her vote, was in­tro­duced first in the elec­tions in Pondicherry in Au­gust 2016, the se­cond pi­lot was car­ried out for the assem­bly elec­tions held in early 2017. Prior to that vot­ers were al­lowed to cast their votes through proxy vot­ing by nom­i­nat­ing a per­son in their con­stituency of res­i­dence to vote for them.

One of the rea­sons iden­ti­fied, the of­fi­cial said, is that there is no def­i­nite data on the num­ber of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers in the cat­e­gory apart from the fig­ures pro­vided by the cen­sus. “Our elec­toral rolls haven’t been up­dated prop­erly. Fac­tors such as trans­fers, post­ings and even deaths on-duty have led to lack of up­keep of records,” he said. With Gu­jarat and Hi­machal Pradesh are due to go to polls this year, fol­lowed by assem­bly elec­tions in Mad­hya Pradesh, Ch­hat­tis­garh and Ra­jasthan next year, of­fi­cials said that a tar­geted drive can help as­cer­tain the reach of elec­toral re­forms, such as in­tro­duc­tion of e bal­lots- only if the elec­tion com­mis­sion had an ac­cu­rate elec­toral list.

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