Tue, 16 Aug 2022

New Delhi [India], November 26 (ANI): Ahead of Assembly polls scheduled to be held next year in seven states of the country, Chief Election Commissioner of India Sushil Chandra on Friday said that the Commission has issued instructions for preparations in poll-bound states.

Chandra today attended an International Webinar On 'Enhancing Electoral Participation Of Women, Persons With Disabilities (PwDs) and Senior citizen Voters: Sharing Best Practices and New Initiatives' at Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Delhi.

Speaking to ANI after the event, he stated, "We are continuously reviewing the preparations in poll-bound states. We have met with chief electoral officers and reviewed the preparations. We have given necessary instructions to them and hope that the voting percentage in the poll-bound states go up.""In Rajasthan by-polls held earlier this year, 90 per cent of the specially-abled people cast their votes. We want voters of all categories to participate in the upcoming elections," he added.

Elections are scheduled to be held next year in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Manipur.

Earlier, speaking at the event, Chandra said, "Our aim is to increase voter participation in the country to strengthen democracy. The basic question before all of us is how to increase the voting percentage. Some countries have got an overall percentage of 70 per cent, some of them have 60 per cent....we need to work on how this can be increased. Some countries have made voting compulsory. We feel that persuasion is most important.""These are the big challenges. Every country aims to maximize voters' participation to strengthen democracy. Technology has taken a very important role in this. We have to focus on voter education programmes and know about how can we reach to each and every person whether he is a senior citizen, the person with disability or transgenders."Highlighting the challenges, Chandra said that enrolling voters and motivating them to cast their votes are the main challenges faced by them. "Suppose you have got 93 crores eligible voters, the biggest challenge is how to get maximum of them to cast their votes," he added.

Talking about the different voting trends in national, state and local body elections, Chandra observed that the turnover percentage is different in different elections and the commission needs to chalk out strategies to increase voters' participation in all these elections.

"We will have to think of strategies onto how we can increase voting turnover and electoral participation of voters. We need to work on how can we enroll voters with an instant click without a lot of paperwork," he stated.

Earlier in his keynote address, Chandra said that strategies need to be developed to remove barriers and enhance the participation of women and senior citizens in the electoral process. "During the last 19 elections, we had a total of 911 million electors of which 470 million were men and 430 million were women. The number of electors as of January 1, 2021, has gone up to 934 million," he stated.

Speaking on enrolling electoral participation of transgenders and specially-abled people, Chandra said that the commission focused on taking a holistic view of the gender definition. "Transgenders had the option of registering as the transgender community. Around 40,000 people registered themselves as transgenders till 2019," he stated.

"It was 13 years ago, that directions were issued to provide facilities for electors with disabilities. Till now, more than 7.7 million specially-abled voters have been mapped and we strive towards 100 per cent mapping," he added.

Nearly a hundred delegates from 24 countries across the world namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mongolia, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Zambia and four international organizations--International IDEA, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and European Centre for Elections participated in the webinar.

Around 20 diplomats including the Ambassador of Uzbekistan and High Commissioners of Fiji, Maldives, Mauritius also attended the webinar. (ANI)

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