By- Madhurita Goswami
In the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal will witness 14.21 lakh first-time voters, all between the age group of 18 to 19, who have enrolled with the Election Commission to exercise their voting rights.
Quoting the figure, assistant Chief Electoral Officer Amitjyoti Bhattacharya termed the scenario “unprecedented in recent times” and credited the EC’s “mass mobilisation drive” for this, which targeted the total number of possible voters, especially females, between the 18-19 age group in the state, a staggering 20.79 lakh young people.
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“We distributed around 1 lakh voter registration forms for inclusion of new voters (Form 6) in educational institutions. Around 88,000 were submitted,” Bhattacharya said.“We emphasized on holding camps in educational institutions and saw exemplary enrollment success in Chandannagar and Hooghly. Several institutions recorded 100 per cent female voter registration,”he added.
Interestingly, the EC’s focus on female voters has resulted in the gender ratio (among voters) – females per 1,000 males – increase from 910 in the Commission’s draft publication to 923 in its final release, which also saw the per cent increase in total electorate between the aforementioned age-group from 1.17 (in the draft) to 3.33 (in the final list), an outcome yet again of the EC’s mobilisation drive, according to Bhattacharya.
District-wise, Murshidabad witnessed the maximum number of youth enrollment, followed by Malda, Purba Medinipur, Birbhum, Uttar Dinajpur, taking the number of voters between 18 and 19 years per constituency in West Bengal higher than the national average. The EC partnered with organisations such as Tata Global, FICCI, ASSOCHAM to rein in young professionals as part of its drive, which included, among others, organising quiz, drawing, slogan writing competitions.