By bappaditya paul
In an innovative step, the election authority in West Bengal has started writing letters to young electors asking them to enroll their names in the voters’ list.
The letter in Bengali is signed by the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO). The letter is designed in an attractive multicolour format and is being delivered to 18-year-olds by name.
Most importantly, along with the CEO’s letter, the newly eligible electors are being given two copies of “Form-6” ~ a pre-designed application form required for enrolment of names in the voters’ list.
“After holding the latest special summary roll revision in the state with 1 January 2012 as the reference date, the number of 18-19 year ones whose names have featured in the voters’ list now stands at 1.5 per cent of the total population.”
“This is despite the total number of individuals in this age group being a little over three per cent. Hence, to bridge this critical gap, we decided to do something to reach out to the youths and that’s how the idea of the letter came up,” said the state CEO, Mr Sunil Kumar Gupta.
The CEO’s office in Kolkata has already sent a master copy of the letter to all the district magistrates (DMs), who in turn are getting those printed as per requirement.
“At the local level it is the block level officers (BLO) who are delivering the letter to the targeted individuals. To give it a personal touch, the letter carries the name of the particular youth for whom it is meant.”
“The BLOs are also assigning teachers in higher secondary schools and colleges in their locality as nodal officers and are handing over to them bulk copies of the letter with the request that those be delivered to the students attaining 18 years of age,” elaborated Mr Joydip Mukherjee, the OSD (IT) in the CEO’s office handling the matter.
By submitting to the BLO’s office two copies of the filled up “Form-6” (being provided with the letter) along with necessary supporting documents and photographs, an eligible youth can get his/her name enrolled in the voters’ list round the year, the CEO added.
He said after the present exam season is over, they will take stock of the progress achieved through the new measure.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 31 March 2012.)