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Drum roll to improve voter turnout in Rajasthan (Election Special)

Posted on Apr 02 2014 | IANS

By Anil Sharma, Jaipur, April 2 : Drum beats and 'pila chawal' (yellow rice) - both part of traditional invitation - will be used in those Rajasthan areas where the voter turnout is low. The state election commission has come up with some unique ways to increase voter turnout.

In some areas where voter turnout is comparatively low, drums will be beaten in front of each household to raise awareness and urge voters to cast their ballot.

Jalore-Sirohi is one such Lok Sabha constituency where officials are all set to use drums to get a higher voter turnout.

"There are 804 villages in Jalore-Sirohi constituency where voting will take place April 17. The voter turn-out has been comparatively very low during the previous Lok Sabha elections. In 2009, only 37.96 percent voters exercised their votes," said a district election commission official.

The official said that the low turnout is a cause for concern for the Election Commission following which special measures are being taken to raise awareness.

"Drums are traditionally used to mark celebrations and family functions in this region. They are also used for invitation. We will have people beat drums in front of each household in 804 villages April 16", a day before the voting, said the official.

The government employees who will accompany the drummers will urge people to cast their votes.

"Another reason for the low turnout is that people migrate in huge numbers to other parts of the country for work while their families live here. We will distribute to such families pila chawal (yellow rice) which as per tradition is given to people to invite them to wedding ceremonies," said the official.

The official said that drums will be beaten a day before the elections so that its impact on voters is maximum.

The state election commission will also use technology and social media platforms to reach out to voters.

"We would make available on Facebook information related to elections. Also, a mobile application which smart phone users can download will also provide information to the voters. We would also launch caller and hello tunes telling the importance of voting," said an election commission official.

He added it is easy to spread awareness messages using social media and mobile technologies compared to traditional ways of advertising.

"We have been successful in ensuring a record high percentage of voter turnout in assembly elections in Rajasthan which were held in December last year. We are trying to do the same for the Lok Sabha elections," the official added.

(Anil Sharma can be contacted at anil.s@ians.in)

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