Avny Lavasa, Deputy Commissioner/ District Election Officer, Leh: Voting is a fundamental right of every citizen to choose the leaders and to form the government. Voter’s participation is very important in the electoral process to run the democracy successfully.
District administration, Leh have already launched the voter awareness programme focusing on the electoral registration of the voters and awareness of machines such as Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VV Pat).
Under the flagship program of the Election Commission of India, Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation - SVEEP, we started activities to educate voters and spreading awareness. Focusing the young voters, we have conducted awareness campaign in winter coaching centres, ice hockey tournaments, and Ladakh Scouts. Presently, the election in Ladakh is conducted towards the closing phases and we are planning to carry out the awareness program in full swing once the date of election is finalized. The target is to reach every voter of the district for the enrollment, to educate about EVM/VVPAT’s and to encourage them to vote.
VVPAT is a new machine which will ensure the voting process even more transparent than it was. Talking about the technical aspects of EVM, it is a standalone machine which cannot be connected with Wi-Fi networks or any external devices. The machine is electronically protected to prevent any tampering/manipulation.
There are two things which constitute the EVM, ballot unit and control unit. Now, the VVPAT will also be connected and apart from these three units no other devices or connection is possible.
Election will be fair and transparent and there is no doubt about it.
There are strict legal provisions against the defaulters. During the election time, if any political parties violate the Model Code of Conduct, legal action will be taken against them. Anyone can come and complain if found such illegal practices and also, there is an app named C vigil where one can upload images of such practices within 5 minutes and we will take action.
Regarding polling duty, a local of a particular block will not be deployed in the respective block for polling duty and local officers will not be there in local subdivisions. Apart from it, the EVM’s are randomized when they are allotted to polling stations and the polling staffs are also randomized thrice with the final one before 48 hours of the elections. Prior to this, nobody knows who is going where. This will ensure check and balance in the system itself.
Voting gives the power to an individual to question the government about issues and clarifications. We should cast our vote wisely for the leaders who can bring change. If people votes are based on corrupt practices, the government you will get will also be corrupt and simultaneously one loses the right to complain.
There are issues regarding maximum number of youths studying outside unable to exercise their right to vote . But the problem is not just faced by the Ladakh region only but in other states as well. But as of now we must plan and try to cast our vote because the date of the election is announced almost 2 months ago. The consideration of demand for polling station in other states during election time is under Election Commission of India.
The participation of voters is must but the turnout ratio of voters is less in Leh as compared to Kargil. I feel that the interest in politics or the government you chose, and the issues are needed for maximum voter’s participation.
There are challenges faced by the department such as the accessibility in far-flung nomadic areas where we need to install tents for polling station but I am proud to say that we have always reached out and conducted the election smoothly.
Awareness program such as Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation–SVEEP will help in making people understand the importance of the vote.
The thought of ‘My vote counts’ or ‘One vote can change’ needs to inculcate among the voters.
Political parties can also play a big role in imparting the value and importance of the vote.
“We may be very cynical and think one vote does not count and bring change. Each vote makes a difference and one must vote to the right candidate. The right to complain is not there if we don’t vote.”
Nargis Banoo, Deputy District Election Officer, Kargil: In a democratic setup, people play a very important role to form government of their own choice. India being the world’s largest democracy has given right to vote to every citizen who has attained the age of 18 years and above. With the responsibility of choosing a good leader, maximum participation of voters becomes crucial so that the views/choice of the majority prevail.
The voters are the primary medium to form a democratic government and should know the value of his / her vote. The voter should not be impressed or mobilized under any unlawful means /pressure and exercise the right to vote fearlessly. Also, they should not be involved in any exercise of bogus voting.
District Election Office under the control of the Deputy Commissioner, Kargil, plays a vital role for smooth conduct of elections. Preparation of plans, arrangement of different activities such as transport, communication, drafting of polling personnel, trainings, facilities at polling stations such as EVM/VVPAT and other material management, dispatch and receiving plan, counting plan, security arrangement and different assignments through various Nodal Officers etc. are to be handled and supervised.
EVM / VVPAT awareness drive is planned to take up to the bottom under SVEEP but because of blockage of various route, weather challenges and heavy snowfall the programme is at turtle speed. But we will gear up with the change in climatic conditions and opening of routes. However training/demonstration for employees and different sections of the society will start at Tehsil level within a day or two.
The awareness drive will play an important role to clear all doubts and increase voter participation.
If we look at the voter’s turnout of previous elections in Kargil, it is always above 70%. This shows that people in Kargil are much aware of the importance of participation in the electoral process. Also, the voter awareness programmes are conducted at grass root level under different schemes of ECI at regular intervals. The religious organisations also suggest people to exercise his/her right to vote as a moral duty to elect capable leader. Your vote to A, B, or C candidate, goes to the nation and its democratic setup.
Voters awareness forum under SVEEP.
Reaching at the grass root level through field workers like, AWWs, ASHAs, MPHWs, FMPHWs, BLOs, BLAs, BAGs, VLWs and MPWs.
Imparting the value and importance of vote through posters, banners hoardings pamphlets and local AIR.
“To cast vote today is not only to exercise a right but to perform a duty towards strengthening national democratic system. I urge upon all eligible electors to participate in elections with a free mind.”