A look into how the DEO of West Singhbhum and his team used every possible way to spread voter awareness and increase voter turnout.
In the winter of 2014, the district of West Singhbhum and its electors were inching day by day closer to the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly Elections. The previous elections had documented a voter turnout that was as low as 45%. The district is geographically remote, poorly connected and densely forested. It doesn't help that West Singhbhum was also an active site for intense Maoist activities with recorded incidents that had resulted in threatened voters who had no trust in the administration or the concept of democracy itself.
But ever vote counts and so the aim to empower the voters and increase the voter turnout was clear to the DEO Aboobacker Siddique and his team.
The team started off with organizing SVEEP meetings with different stakeholders. From campus ambassadors to local village functionaries, everyone was involved but more significantly, every available medium was utilized. In the months that lead to the elections, West Singhbhum witnessed 70 Nukkad Nataks, oath taking ceremonies in colleges, a number of candle marches in backward areas and numerous bicycle/motorcycle/scooter rallies, all with the intent of empowering the voters by creating awareness.
To attract the youth, several sporting events were organized in the district such as 'Run for Vote' and 'Goal for Vote'. Hockey player, Ms. Bigan Soy inspired them to vote through media ads, quiz and essay competitions became common occurrence at schools, social media was used fervently and the DEO himself made mass appeal for participating in the elections.
All SVEEP activities eventually culminated into a SVEEP fest in the district which drove the message for electoral participation home through a vibrant cultural programme. This fest featured 36 Jagrukta Raths, two for each block, through which posters, hand bills and pamphlets were distributed to the people.
Special security planning was conducted with CRPF and relocation considered as a security measure. The efforts of the election officials paid off as the district chronicled a voter turnout of 70%. For the first time electors from 5 villages – Jambaiburu, Dharandiri, Balehaatu, Chevralore and Kodadihu voted for the first time!
For his efforts in the SVEEP programme, Aboobacker Siddique, DEO West Singhbhum was presented the National Award for Best Electoral Practices in 2015.
Edited by ECI