In order to ensure maximum voter turnout during the Lok Sabha elections, state election officials are planning to give away incentives to housing societies that register 100 per cent turnout.
One such incentive in the works is to make such societies eligible, through a point system, for state government awards to cooperative societies that carry cash prizes of up to Rs 1 lakh.
Apart from election officials, even local self-help groups (SHG) in the city are planning rewards for societies from where voter turnout is high.
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An official from the collector’s office said one of the measures they were planning to ensure a high voter turnout was to try and assign responsibility at the basic block level such as in housing societies.
According to a 2012 directive, housing society heads such as secretaries and chairpersons are booth-level volunteers and are responsible for ensuring that voter lists of their respective societies are updated and that people step out to vote.
Sonali Mule, nodal officer for Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP), said, “In order to ensure that there is high voter participation, we are also planning to give incentives to societies that have a 100 per cent voter turnout in some way.”
An official from the Office of the Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies said one of the options they were considering was to ensure such societies get points that will qualify them for awards conferred by the state on cooperative societies involved in social work.
“The Sarkar Maharashi award with a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, Sarkar Bhushan with a cash prize of Rs 51,000 among other prizes, are awarded by the state annually to cooperative societies with the highest points. Societies with a high voting percentage could get points that will give them a shot at these awards,” the official said.
However, the official added that the proposal was still being considered and had not got a final stamp of approval.
The official also said voters were not supposed to be rewarded for exercising a basic democratic right, but also adding that the points system was not a direct prize and will only enable housing societies to compete in a larger contest of all types of cooperative societies for engaging in a range of social work activities.
Apart from this, there are SHGs doing their bit to ensure that the voting percentage is high in their areas.
Harsha Kumara Udapi, from Soch Sayani that operates in Thakur village area of Kandivali, said, “Apart from usual measures such as awareness campaigns, we are also organising competitions between housing societies to see which of them manages to record the highest polling percentage. In every society, we will have booths where people will make a list of how many registered voters are present and how many eventually cast their votes.”
Udapi added that apart from this, they were also planning ahead for the Vidhan Sabha elections and were encouraging those not on the polling lists to register themselves before the state polls were held.