Pathanamthitta | Gifts to voters may set alarm bells ringing in normal course but not in this district of poll-bound Kerala where the authorities are set to use them as an incentive among other measures to draw more electors to booths.
Faced with below par polling percentage in recent elections compared to the state average, the administration has hit upon the idea of offering incentives and lucky draws, perhaps for the first time in the country, to those who cast their votes in the May 16 assembly elections.
Pathanamthitta, Kerala’s youngest district, which is home to the famous Sabarimala Temple of Lord Ayyappa, clocked 68.22 per cent polling in 2011 assembly elections as against the state average of 75.12 per cent. Polling percentage was also lower during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
District Collector S Harikishore, who is also the District Election Officer, has drawn up a three-pronged strategy to increase the voting percentage this time. As part of the plan, a ‘Vote and Win’ contest will be organised in 100 selected booths, where the polling percentage was below 60 per cent in the last two elections, Harikishore said.
Voters returning after casting their franchise will be handed over a ‘Thank you’ card, which will have a specific number. A total of one lakh cards are to be distributed. Lucky draws would be conducted for this one lakh and the winners would be given ‘attractive’ prizes, he told.
Besides, a Systematic voters education and Election Programme (SVEEP) has been drawn up to attract voters to the 891 polling booths in the district 803 of which are in villages and 88 in cities.
To increase the polling percentage, the first step is to create more awareness programmes and as part of this, a three pronged strategy has been drawn up, Harikishore said. Also, letters will be sent to all the voters in the 100 polling booths, asking them to ensure that they cast their franchise on May 16.
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