Companies Plan to Boost Urban Voter Turnout

Hyderabad: In a bid to reverse urban voter apathy, a notable shift is being planned. Corporations will take proactive steps to increase voter participation among their employees.

Awareness programmes are being organised, and assistance is provided to address common issues such as updating address details. While the immediate focus is on motivating those with voting rights in Hyderabad to cast their ballots, the long-term goal is to enable employees from other states to transfer their votes to their current place of residence.

Hyderabad, often referred to as a mini India, is home to over 10 lakh IT employees from across the country. Many of them have voting rights in their native states, limiting their involvement in local electoral processes. A few who do vote sometimes discover their names missing from the electoral rolls, and others question the significance of their vote, she explained.

Manisha Saboo, president of the Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association, the industry body for IT companies, stated, “We will be conducting drives shortly to help the employees on electoral processes. Special kiosks are also planned in various offices in the IT corridor to remind the employees that voting is a responsibility."

The hybrid work model is expected to play a significant role in voter turnout. Mathala Telangana, president of the Telangana Facilities Management Council, whose members provide and manage IT infrastructure, noted, "Many staff are still continuing to work remotely. Though some staff might have their vote here, their participation will be thin due to remote working."

To increase voter turnout, a series of events and awareness campaigns are being planned. The nonprofit organisation "Let’s Vote" is actively engaged in educating residents within gated communities, educational institutions, and corporations. Their efforts extend to social media platforms, where they aim to amplify the message of the importance of voting.

Prof. K. Subbarangaiah, national convener of Let’s Vote, highlighted concerns about the "Nota" (None of the Above) option. Many opine that if the Nota receives a higher percentage of votes than the candidates, the Election Commission of India should consider a reelection, he said.

Efforts are also being made to educate voters about the option to shift their vote to a new constituency (if they have resided there for a minimum of three months). While this may not be immediately relevant to the upcoming election, it is expected to improve voter turnout in the long run. Mobile apps like "voter helpline," "know your candidate (KYC)," and "CVIGIL" provided by the Election Commission of India are being promoted to encourage electors' engagement., he said.

The ultimate goal is to raise urban turnout from the current 60 per cent to a range of 65-70 per cent, he said.

Notably, Telangana has witnessed a net increase of 5.32 lakh electors since January 6 of this year, with approximately 14 lakh corrections made during 2023. Moreover, the state boasts a significant first-time voter population, with around 8.11 lakh individuals aged 18-19 years set to participate in the electoral processes.

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