Having identified 266 parliamentary constituencies for low voter turnout, the Election Commission of India has put together a three-pronged strategy to persuade voters to come out and vote in the seven phases of polling beginning from April 19.

An analysis of poll data by the ECI revealed that eleven States and Union Territories - Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand - had a voter turnout lower than the national average of 67.40 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Low polling

To address voters’ apathy, the Election Commission held a conference on Friday attended by municipal commissioners and select district election officers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for chalking out strategy to increase voter participation in the low polling mapped parliamentary seats of 215 falling in rural areas and another 51 in urban setting.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar told the participants to avoid ‘one size fits all’ approach and look for different strategies depending on areas and segments.

He emphasised on a three-pronged strategy of providing facilitation at polling stations, such as queue management, sheltered parking in congested areas; targeted outreach and communication; and involvement of critical stakeholders including RWAs, local icons and youth influencers to persuade people to come to polling stations on voting day.

Action plan

Kumar advised officials to draft a booth-wise action plan for enhanced voter participation, reflecting different strategies for urban and rural areas taking into account their target audiences. This is because EC believes voters’ apathy is an outcome of various socio-economic, political, and demographic conditions.

Urban specific hurdles to increased voter turnout were identified and targeted interventions were planned. The officers were encouraged to develop tailored, region-specific outreach programs that resonate with the unique needs and demographics of their constituencies.

Of the 50 seats with the lowest voter turnout in 2019 LS elections, 17 were in metropolitans or major cities.