With greater tech use and mega campaigns hopeful voter turnout will rise Delhi CEO

By Kunal Dutt
(Eds: PTI exclusive: With additional inputs)
    New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) The Delhi polls will see more thrust on use of technology complemented with massive campaigns in the run-up, Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh said on Tuesday and hoped the twin-edged strategy will lead to a greater turnout than in 2015.
    In an exclusive interview to PTI, Singh said his office is "fully geared up" for the February 8 elections, and will soon launch a mega, multi-domain outdoor campaign to draw large number of electorate to the polling booths.
    "The 2020 Delhi polls will be tech-driven with greater use of technology elements like mobile apps, QR codes, social media interface, seeking to enhance the experience of all categories of voters, before polling or on the voting day. And we are trying to make the best use of it," he said.
    Electors can use smartphones at polling stations in 11 assembly constituencies for accessing QR codes from the voters' helpline app in case they do not bring voters' slip to the booth.
    Delhi has 70 Assembly constituencies and one constituency in each of the 11 districts will have this tech-driven facility, he said.
    According to Singh, focussed campaigns have been planned by his office to reach out to different sections of voters, aiming to break the "urban apathy" of the electorate, especially the youth.
    "We are soon going to launch a very focussed massive outdoor publicity campaign to appeal to voters to exercise their franchise. Under this, metro stations and select coaches on certain corridors, bus shelters, and other public places having high footfall will be used," Singh told PTI.
    He said the CEO Office has also partnered with 'Josh Talks' platform to reach out to young electorate and first-time voters.
    "They (Josh Talks) approached us few days ago, and we have decided to partner with them. They will conduct talk sessions in colleges and other institutions to target young voters," Singh said.
    Besides, two more ambassadors have been roped in, popular radio jockey Naved Khan and Kathak dancer Alaknanda Dasgupta to spread the message to voters, while sportspersons Manika Batra and Rishabh Pant will continue to endorse our campaigns.
    "We also have our icons to inspire the voters with disability -- specially-abled paralympians Neeraj Yadav and Ankur Dhama," he said.
    "Their faces, along with new slogans coined for the outdoor campaign will be seen on publicity material for greater reach. I am very hopeful that greater use of technology and these huge campaigns will significantly contribute to push the voter turnout higher this time compared to that in the last Assembly polls," Singh said.
    In 2015 Assembly polls, Delhi saw a turnout of about 67 per cent, while it was about 60 per cent in Lok Sabha elections last year.
    The CEO Office recently started a campaign to boost turnout in 30 of the 70 constituencies which saw low voter turnout in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
    Nominations for the high-stakes Delhi elections kicked off on Tuesday with poll authorities issuing the notification for the February 8 polls.
    Elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly promises to be a triangular contest with the AAP hoping to retain power on the plank of development and the BJP and the Congress determined to put up a spirited challenge.
    The counting of votes will be taken up on February 11. 
    Over 1.46 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the February 8 Assembly election in Delhi, according to the final electoral roll.
    Over 2 lakh among them are first-time voters, Singh said.
    On the preparations for the upcoming polls, Singh said, M3 (third generation) EMVs will be used in the polls, and electronic voting machines will have VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) facilities.
    "For EVMs, the FLC (first-level checking) has been done. The strong rooms have already been identified and they will be set up as per the EC guidelines.
    There are 13,750 polling booths located at 2,689 locations across Delhi.
    There will be about 34,000 ballot units, and 18,765 control units and 20,385 VVPATs, he said.
    The number of vulnerable polling stations are 72, number of critical polling stations stand at 3,209.
     Asked if the recent incidents of violence in the national capital, will have any bearing on the fate of the polls, Singh said, "I don't think there is any cause for alarm. Police will do their job and we are keeping a close watch over the situation. Adequate arrangements are being mitigate any vulnerabilities, and paramilitary forces will be deployed in vulnerable areas".
     On complaints related to model code of conduct being reported to his office, he said, "The SoP (standard operating procedure) to be followed in MCC-related complaints, are adhered to".
     There are a total of 1,46,92,136 voters -- 80,55,686 males, 66,35,635 females and 815 belonging to third gender -- in the final voters list.
    The number of voters in various categories include overseas voter (489), service voters (11,556), voters in age group 18-19 years (2,08,883) and aged above 80 years (2,05,035), and specially challenged (55,823). PTI KND ZMN

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)