Voters’ participation in the democratic and electoral processes is integral to the successful running of democracy and reflects the health of a functioning democracy.
The level and the quality of voters’ participation in the electoral process depends to a great extent on knowledge and awareness of the voters in important areas like registration, EPIC/ identity proofs, Polling Station location, use of EVMs, timings of the poll, do’s & don’ts with regard to Model Code of Conduct, use of money/ muscle and liquor power by candidates or their associates to influence vulnerable sections of electorate. In this regard, there is a visible knowledge gaps among the voters because voters’ education had not received the requisite priority from election managers.
It is against this background that Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) program by the Election Commission of India (ECI) was launched in 2009 with the objective of enhancing Electoral Participation in the country and building a culture of participative democracy. SVEEP is now central to our election management and has emerged as a phenomenon in the arena of election management.
As per 2011 census, Tamenglong district has a population of 140651. The total registered electors in the last Assembly Election-2012 was 78838 and the Elector-Population (EP) ratio was 56.05 percent. As on January, 2016, the total electors registered is 87964 and the projected population is 158145. So the current Elector-Population (EP) ratio is 55.66 per cent which is about 9 per cent below the expected EP ratio of 64.00 percent, indicating that about 13,248 eligible voters are yet to be enrolled in the electoral list. Voter turnout for the District in the last Assembly Election, 2012 was 66.37 percent which was much below the overall voter turnout of 79.19 percent in the State. The District SVEEP Plan (2016-17) is formulated to address these gaps through timely intervention and sustained campaign to educate and motivate voters to actively participate in the electoral process.
The broad objectives of SVEEP Plan in respect of Tamenglong District are follows:
The SVEEP Plan for the district in the upcoming Manipur State Assembly Election-2017 seeks to create new benchmarks in educating voters through outdoor/ print/ audio/ audio-visual media and interpersonal communications.
In order to achieve the above mentioned objectives, SVEEP Plan shall adopt three (3) pronged strategy using 360 degree Media Campaign Approach. Under this approach, reliable and timely information will be provided to the public at key points of interaction using strategic communication approaches involving mass media, mid and outdoor media, interpersonal communications.
The three pronged strategy will include:
Special summary revision of electoral rolls of assembly constituencies will be organised on specified dates and all those who are 18 years on January 1 next year are eligible to submit applications for inclusion of their names in the electoral roll. Also large number of applications usually filled for deletion, correction, and change in the address will also be addressed. Trainings were imparted to all the booth level officers, sensitizing them on the important issues relating to roll revision.
To encourage the masses to be a part of the electoral system and become electors, information will be imparted mainly in two stages: prior to election announcement and after announcement of the election. Prior to election announcement, the SVEEP programme focuses on providing voters information on:
After announcement of election, SVEEP communication focuses on information to facilitate increased turnout on poll day. Various information that will be provided during this phase of SVEEP are as follows:
The task of enthusing and inspiring the disinterested and alienated citizens and addressing their apathy and skepticism is imperative for greater electoral participation will also be emphasised
In order to create an enabling environment for electors and enhance the supply side, various voters facilitation measures such as provision of basic minimum facilities (BMF), voter slip distribution, online registration, complaint facilities, polling station location facility, search facility will be made available in the District Web Portal. Help line number and SMS based information facility will be made operational in the district.
To maximize the Public Engagement in the Electoral processes, reliable and timely information to the public at all points of interaction will be provided using strategic communication approaches involving mass media, mid and outdoor media, interpersonal communications.
360 Degree SVEEP Campaign shall inform, educate and persuade primary audiences to enrol themselves and their families in the electoral roll and participate in the upcoming Assembly Election. It will take into account the barriers and variables related to mindset, apathy and indifference towards electoral participations. The focus of any communication activity should be on awareness, sensitization, motivation and sustained practice of healthy behaviour.
The campaign will involve:
To educate and motivate voters for greater mobilization and enhanced participations variety of innovative physical events and activities may be taken up under the SVEEP
In order to expand our outreach program and maximize the turnout, the office of DEO will engage various agencies, government departments and civil society organizations to disseminate messages targeting voters for greater electoral participations. These departments/agencies will be actively engaged in publicizing SVEEP material at District HQ, Sub-Divisional HQs and districts and village level through various outreach activities. Departments and Civil Society Organisations that will involve in the process are:
Periodic review and constant monitoring of SVEEP programme in the districts will be conducted to assess the efficacy of the interventions including about the timely and proper utilisation of funds. Regular meetings with partners and district SVEEP nodal officers, field visits will be undertaken. In order to keep the track of the activity from HQ, daily, weekly and fortnightly reports will be obtained. Mid period review and constant monitoring of SVEEP in the district will be done by DEO. He is to submit a report to the CEO based on: analysis of the overall turnout in their district - analysis of the registration ahead of polls - analysis of the comparative turnout among women, urban voters and youth - analysis of the comparative turnout in the identified low turnout polling stations.