NEW DELHI: India has about 85 crore registered voters, with 1.8 crore new electors added to the electoral rolls in the recent past, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi today said.
"I am very happy to inform the gathering that 1.8 crore or 18 million new voters have been registered in our electoral rolls as on January 1 and ahead of the National Voters' Day (NVD). With this addition, the total number of voters in the country has touched about 85 crore or 850 million mark which is equal to population of some continents on stand alone basis or in combination," the CEC said at an event to mark the 6th NVD here. President Pranab Mukherjee was present at the function as chief guest.
Zaidi said the poll body has made good progress in adding new voters, in the age group of 18-19 years. In India, a citizen can vote after attaining the age of 18 years.
"Enrollment of 18-19 year age group has always been a matter of concern. Commission is pleased to inform that 50 per cent of total voters of this age group have now been enrolled which is a remarkable progress compared with earlier 10 to 15 per cent a few years ago," he said.
The NVD is celebrated every year to mark the foundation of the election watchdog on January 25, 1950 and is observed with much fanfare by the EC and its associate agencies across the country with an aim to increase voter participation. "It (NVD) is an unparalleled operation of its own kind anywhere in the world and we are very proud of it," Zaidi said.
To mark the event this time, the President handed over new Electoral Voter Identity Cards (EPICs) to six chosen youngsters who will be voting for the first time after they attained the age of 18 recently. Zaidi said the motto of the EC has been to ensure a level playing field for all and conduct of free and fair polls every time.
"On the occasion of NVD, citizens of this country and all political parties deserve our special gratitude for reposing total trust and confidence in the Commission. "We in the Commission have always strived hard to enhance this confidence by our sheer neutrality, fairness, transparency and professionalism in election management," he said.
Zaidi recounted some of the latest initiatives taken by the EC to ensure enhanced voter participation. The CEC said the Commission, in the year gone by, introduced several new initiatives like launching of a national voters' service portal to provide a variety of services to the electorate, conducting a national drive to purify electoral rolls, introduction of photos on EVMs, sporting of the NOTA symbol on them and recommending legislation on electronic postal ballot option for overseas electors.
He said the EC has two themes to pursue this year-- 'Inclusive and qualitative participation' and 'No voter to be left behind'. "And we will continue to strengthen electoral democracy with fresh resolve on the occasion of NVD," Zaidi said.