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Voter Awareness Forums to Encourage Voter Participation: Ravi Kumar

Sanjay Kumar Pandey

Ranchi EW News : Chief Electoral Officer Ravi Kumar urged all district election officials in the state to encourage voters to exercise their voting rights through Voter Awareness Forums. He highlighted the provision for sanctioned leave on the polling day under Section 135 (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for employees of non-governmental/private/commercial organizations. These forums, formed under the sweep program, will update voter registration statuses through meetings with organization employees or other awareness activities. Kumar, along with Deputy Chief Electoral Officers Sandeep Singh and Neha Aroda, reviewed preparations for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections via video conferencing with all district election officials in the state.

Kumar emphasized the need to address voter turnout concerns, citing examples of low voter turnout percentages in urban assembly constituencies during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He instructed officials to hold meetings with nodal officers of Voter Awareness Forums in all organizations under their jurisdiction to motivate them to exercise their voting rights. Furthermore, he mandated reporting on Voter Awareness Forum activities every third day.

Notably, heads of non-governmental/private and commercial organizations serve as nodal officers for their respective Voter Awareness Forums, comprising a five-member executive committee. These forums may also extend to existing sports clubs and recreational clubs for employees. They will provide necessary support to ensure voter awareness among all members, including facilitating voter registration updates or contacting relevant BLOs for required resources. Additionally, these forums will encourage members to vote with their family members and post group selfies of voting on their organization’s social media handles, tagging relevant district election officials to validate the significance of Section 135 (b) of the Representation of the People Act.

Following Election Day, Voter Awareness Forums will collect feedback from their members regarding any issues or inconveniences encountered during the voting process and inform relevant officials for resolution. Members who did not exercise their voting rights or remained indifferent towards voting will also be reported to the authorities by the forum heads.

It is worth noting that voters can apply to include their names in the electoral rolls by submitting Form 6 as mandated by the Election Commission of India. Voter Awareness Forums can facilitate this process for their members, allowing them to submit Form 6 for the fourth phase (Singhbhum, Khunti, Lohardaga, and Palamu parliamentary constituencies) by April 15, 2024. Similarly, forms can be submitted for the fifth phase (Chatra, Koderma, and Hazaribagh parliamentary constituencies) until April 24, 2024, and for the sixth phase (Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi, and Jamshedpur parliamentary constituencies) until April 27, 2024. The deadline for the seventh phase (Rajmahal, Dumka, and Godda parliamentary constituencies) is May 4, 2024.

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