Paid leaves, theme-based booths to lure voters in Sundargarh

A multi-pronged approach has been adopted to sensitise and encourage first-time voters and home voting facility enabled for persons with disabilities.
Rourkela and RN Pali Assembly constituencies are under special focus as the areas had recorded low voting rates in 2019  largely due to urban apathy.
Rourkela and RN Pali Assembly constituencies are under special focus as the areas had recorded low voting rates in 2019 largely due to urban apathy.Photo | Express

ROURKELA: The Sundargarh administration has come up with a host of innovative and corrective measures to ensure high voters’ turnout in the polling booths during elections.

Rourkela and RN Pali Assembly constituencies are under special focus as the areas had recorded low voting rates in 2019 largely due to urban apathy. In 2019, Rourkela and RN Pali recorded 61.4 per cent and 63.75 pc votes as against the state’s average of 73.20 pc. The most likely reason for the low voters’ turnout was that urban voters avoided taking the pain of standing in queues for voting, they said.

“For RN Pali AC comprising the entire Rourkela Industrial Township of Rourkela Steel Plant, the voting time till 4 pm was seen as an added problem as a sizeable number of the workforce was thought to have remained stuck at workplaces,” sources said.

Rourkela additional district magistrate and municipal commissioner Ashutosh Kulkarni said the administration has this time taken elaborate measures to increase voting on May 20. “The RSP management has agreed to give paid leaves to their employees to allow them to vote. The voting time has also been extended till 6 pm. I am sure this will increase the voting rate in Raghunathpalli and Rourkela ACs,” he said.

Meanwhile, a multi-pronged approach has been adopted to sensitise and encourage first-time voters and home voting facility enabled for persons with disabilities (PwDs) among other things. Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) activities are also underway with involvement of women, youths, local athletes, celebrities and other citizens along with display of hoardings.

The district administration is sending relevant messages with cooking gas cylinders to encourage women to take part in voting. The district has more women voters at 7,93,327 over total male voters at 7,73,571.

At rural pockets, folk art performers have been educating and encouraging voters with folk performances in local languages. In Birmitrapur, jingles on voting themes are being played in LaccMI buses and vans during household waste collection.

Besides, booth-level officials have been directed to collect feedback with door-to-door visits on low turnout of voters in 2019. District election officer and Sundargarh collector Parag Harshad Gavali said as a preventive measure for excessive heat, the district administration has planned to set up sheds and ORS distribution points along with deployment of health personnel at polling booths.

“Theme-based booths will be a new experience for the citizens of Rourkela this time. We are planning to set up booths based on themes such as ‘All Women’, ‘All youth’ and hockey booths,” Gavali added.

Meanwhile, Rourkela Hotel & Restaurant Association president Praveen Garg offered 10 per cent discount on food bills at member restaurants for customers who successfully cast vote on May 20.

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