ECI embraces social media as it seeks to encourage a new generation of voters

The initiative targets a new generation of voter with a digital campaign involving social media.

The Lok Sabha Elections scheduled from April 11, 2019 are drawing near and the efforts by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to reach out to every voter are multiplying. The ECI has now launched a Twitter account @ECISVEEP with the hashtag #DeshKaMahaTyohar to educate the voter.

The ECI already has an initiative called ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation’ (SVEEP), which is aimed at educating the voter. SVEEP officials are present at the National, State and District level as is indicated in the figure.

The website for SVEEP gives citizens information on how to be added to voters lists once they attain the age of 18. It has a link to all the initiatives taken by various offices of the election commission across the country on voters’ education. It has a gallery and resources section wherein short films, banners, photographs and other material is available for voters’ education.

The website also connects Electoral Literary Clubs which have been established in schools, colleges and rural communities. It has a sub-section for overseas voters and voters with a disability. In all, it is a complete package for voters on the process and importance of voting in an election.

With SVEEP, a pledge has gained popularity among newly eligible voters in India during the past four years. Thanks to SVEEP, the attitude of young India towards elections is changing. A lot of voters have taken a pledge across the country, “We, the citizens of India, having abiding faith in democracy, hereby pledge to uphold the democratic traditions of our country and the dignity of free, fair and peaceful elections, and to vote in every election fearlessly and without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language or any inducement”.

ECI embraces social media as it seeks to encourage a new generation of voters

The ECI has initiated a social media campaign to reach out to a new generation of voter. Image: Reuters

All SVEEP activities and efforts are aimed at:

  • increasing electoral participation through voter registration and turnout
  • increasing qualitative participation in terms of ethical and informed voting
  • continuous electoral and democracy education

SVEEP addresses gaps in two phases. The first slip takes place when eligible citizens who fail to register and the second slip occurs when those who are registered fail to vote. So, SVEEP is designed to address gaps in two phases. It’s not just the pre poll phase (registration of voters) but also the poll phase (turnout of voters to cast their vote).

The extension to this website is the new twitter handle. They’re already posting educational, informational and motivational videos targeting voters and asking them to come out and vote.

One of the first posts is a video about the spirit of Holi which encourages voters to colour their finger with the indelible ink used to mark those who’ve voted in the elections. Another video prepared by the CEO, called Meghalaya, is an animation as to how important it is to vote and how each vote matters.

 

Another video encourages first-time voters. It emphasizes that all those who have attained the age of 18 on January 1, 2019 should get registered as a voter.

Indian cricketing stars — Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshvar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jhadav, Ravindrasinh Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah — have also given messages to all voters in a small video.

Yet another video tells hearing-impaired voters that their vote is equally important. The latest video is about the schedule for the general elections this year.

Given the dramatic increase in India’s online population these past years, the initiative by ECI will attract voters and help them get answers to their queries.

The ECI is also on YouTube and Facebook, and even has a helpline number, 1950, which voters can dial in on or send an SMS to. There's even a Voter Helpline app for Android users.

As the ECISVEEP website puts on a quote, “The one sure way of participating in the process of nation-building is to vote on the Election Day.” With the new Twitter account, the ECI has added another platform to educate and address the grievances of voters.

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