High voter turnout a victory: Poll panel

March 5th, 2012 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Whatever be the political result of the assembly elections, for India’s poll panel the high voter turnout in the five states is a sign of its efforts paying rich dividends. Four of the states recorded their highest-ever turnout, said a poll panel official Monday.

Election Commission’s Director General Akshay Raut told reporters that the panel had been working on a “systematic and scientific” programme to woo all eligible voters to cast their ballot as “voting turnout was fast declining” in India.

“It was a concern for our (poll panel’s) functioning and was a deficit in democracy,” Raut said.

He said four of five states recorded their highest-ever turnouts in history in the just-concluded elections.

In Punjab, nearly 1.4 million voters - over 78.5 percent of electorate - exercised their franchise, which is nearly nine percent more than recorded in the 2007 assembly polls.

In Uttarakhand, more than 4.2 million electors - nearly 65.75 percent of eligible voters - came out to vote, which is nearly 10 percent more than the 2007 assembly polls.

In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most-populous state, more than 75.71 million voters cast their ballot, which is over 45.8 percent more than in the 2007 elections. The state recorded an astounding 13.7 million increase in electors in the last five years.

In Goa, nearly 838,000 voters - 81.75 percent of the electorate - voted which is 17.6 percent more than recorded in the 2007 elections.

“The commission is hopeful that in the coming elections, this increased participation will lead to complete participation,” Raut said.

Raut is in-charge of the poll panel’s Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) wing, which is the brain behind the awareness and education programmes for improving electoral participation in the country.

“The commission is consciously feeling that this programme has converted itself into a participative revolution,” Raut said

“The participative revolution will increase further in the coming elections and the commission is happy that the electoral management programme has given good results.”

He said the panel will continue working on the programme of “information, motivation and facilitation”.

He said Manipur was the only state where voting percentage has declined — by over six percent.

The decline, he said, was “due to efforts to curb bogus voting”.

He said another significant factor in the assembly elections was the huge women participation in the exercise.

“We wanted youth to become a face of participation in these polls. All the states that went to polls now have also shown increased women participation,” he said.

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