Massive SVEEP effort to increase voter turnout

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Noida (UP)-(PTI) Over 1,500 awareness programmes were organised by election officials across Noida and Greater Noida in the past one month as they reached directly to around five lakh people with an aim to increase voter turnout in the Lok Sabha polls, officials said Wednesday.

The constituency, with 22.97 lakh voters, goes to polls on Thursday in the first leg of the seven phased elections in the country.

Gautam Buddh Nagar witnessed a turnout of 60 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha poils, which was an improvement on the 2009 figure of 48 per cent, according to Election Commission statistics.

The turnouts in Noida and Greater Noida were lower than the national average of 66 per cent in 2014 and 58 per cent in 2009.

However, SVEEP officials (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation), better known as SVEEP, said this time around they left no stone unturned to raise awareness among voters across sectors and villages in the district, holding up to 50 awareness programmes daily over the past 30 days.

However, some locals, who work at places that do not have elections Thursday, said they would have loved if they were allowed a day-off on the voting day.

The SVEEP is a flagship program of the Election Commission for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India.

“We reached directly to more than five lakh people across Gautam Buddh Nagar this time. We particularly engaged children and youth and exhorted them to encourage their parents and acquaintances in turn to go out for voting on April 11,” said Rajeev Tyagi, the nodal officer for SVEEP in the constituency.

The officials went on a whirlwind tour of Noida and Greater Noida, conducting 1,500 programmes and interactive sessions at community centres, bus stands, shopping malls and other public places.

“We went to 168 sectors, 91 villages and utilised the Sunday gatherings at Raahgiris where 10,000 to 30,000 people participated,” Tyagi, also the General Manager of the Noida Authority, said.

“We have exhorted people to mark their presence in the ‘Desh Ka Mahatyohar’. Voting is our right and responsibility,” Tyagi said.

Some of the Noida residents who work outside the city said it would have been better if they had got off for voting on Thursday.

“There should be leave for employees to cast their votes. Accessibility to polling centre must be ensured,” said Ashwini, a resident of Sector 137, who works in Delhi.

Noting that several voters have faced problems in getting their voter ID cards with picture, he said the election commission should have expedited the printing of voter ID cards.

“Why should I wait for it when my name has already been included in the voters list?” he asked.

Ashwini said he is planning to cast his vote early in the morning so as to be able to reach work in time.

Chaitali Sharma, a resident of Greater Noida west, who works in Faridabad, said employers should have considered the situation and an off day would encourage service class people towards voting.

“Fortunately my company has allowed work-from-home on poll day. But, after casting my vote early in the morning, I will go to office as I have an important meeting to attend,” she said.

Sharma, a software engineer, said she has not received physical copy of her voter ID card but has confirmed that her name is on the voter list.

“Of course it’s a difficult process, but understandable because the work load on election officials would have increased manifold. A better planning could have prevented this difficulty for citizens as well as officials,” she said.