Want to register as a voter? Just go to college

March 13th, 2009 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Are you a student eager to vote but without any idea how to get registered as an elector? Don’t fret. Your college will now have a facilitation centre where you get the form, get it verified by the authorities and submit it there too.
In a meeting with the representatives of six universities, Delhi’s chief electoral officer Friday proposed that such centres should be set up immediately to encourage the youth to come forward and vote.

“According to a survey, as on Feb 20 the number of electors in the age group of 18-19 were 403,914 but the city’s population in this same group was much higher at 725,600. This shows that youth in this age group are highly under-represented,” Satbir Silas Bedi, the chief electoral officer, said at a press meet here Friday.

“Therefore, we decided to meet the officials of various universities and make them a medium to spread awareness among the students, as well as the teachers, to come out, register themselves and vote,” she said.

The general election for the next Lok Sabha will be held in the seven seats of Delhi May 7.

The universities which participated in the meet were Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Milia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Indira Gandhi National Open University and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

For the huge chunk of outstation students living in university hostels and elsewhere, Bedi said that their address can be verified by the college authorities so that they get registered in the electoral roll here.

“However it should be ensured that if a student is already a registered elector in his or her native place, then they cannot register here - even if they don’t vote there. Only by cancelling their registration in their native place can they register here,” Bedi said.

Besides the facilitation centres, representatives of the universities suggested various other means to create more awareness among the student community.

“We can rope in the students union to create mass awareness about the importance of voting. Also, inclusion of the same in the university’s official website and prospectus will start a movement of some sorts for better turn out in the future,” Kalpana Bhrara of DU told IANS.

S.K. Vasan of Jamia Milia Islamia added: “‘Nukkad nataks’ (street plays), seminars and workshops can also create a great awareness. Roping in teachers in the process will help reach across to their families in turn as well to the students.”

Bedi said: “From our experience in the last Delhi elections in November, four million people in Delhi did not vote and 2.5 million of them had valid voter identity cards. This time in the general elections we want the scene to change and want the youth to bring about that transition.”

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