Come vote: Facebook invitation to the young
Junagadh's district electoral officer has built a Facebook page to encourage the young to vote.
The Facebook page for Sorath Sveep (Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation) gives details of polling stations and carries messages exhorting young people to vote. The Facebook page has links to the Election Commission's website with maps directing the voter to polling booths and providing other information. The page invites "likes" from visitors for a pledge "to vote in every election fearlessly and without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language or any inducement".
The Election Commission has been expressing concerns about low voting by youth and women. The EC estimates 12.87 lakh voters are first-timers while nearly one crore are aged between 20 and 29, and 93 lakh voters between 30 and 39, constituting over two crore aged under 40.
Junagadh district has about 5.51 lakh voters between 18 and 29, or 30 per cent of the district's electorate. "Our aim is to target young voters through social media and motivate others as well," said Manish Bhardwaj, the DEO.
The EC plans to rope in Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom, both young women, to help spread awareness. An official with the state election office said colleges across the state and orgnisations such as the NCC and the NSS, too, have been roped in to encourage young voters to turn out.