Address by Governor at the launch of the Mascot, News Letter and various Social Media Initiatives by Maharashtra State Election Commission
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the launch of the Mascot, News Letter and various Social Media Initiatives by Maharashtra State Election Commission at Sahyadri State Guest House, Malabar Hill, Mumbai at 4.30 pm on Thursday 19 January 2016
Shri J. S. Saharia, State Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Swadhin Kshatriya, Chief Secretary, Shri Sumit Mullick, Additional Chief Secretary, Shri Shekhar Channe, Secretary, State Election Commission, officials of the Commission, members of various organizations, invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon and greetings to you.
I am very happy to associate myself with the launch of the Mascot, News Letter, Mobile App and social media initiatives of the Maharashtra State Election Commission.
I congratulate the State Election Commission for its proactive initiative aimed at reaching out to the voters and creating a transparent and people-friendly mechanism, required for the smooth functioning of democracy.
The bugle for the elections to the Municipal Corporation and Zilla Parishad has already been sounded. There is excitement all over the State, among the candidates, media and voters.
It was therefore very thoughtful of the State Election Commission to have forged partnerships with various organizations and launched technology-driven initiatives like Operation Black Dot, Gupshup, Facebook Messenger, etc with a view to connecting the youths, first time voters and, perhaps, even the reluctant voters with the election process.
I take this opportunity to convey my sincere appreciation to each and every official and volunteer associated with the launch of these initiatives.
Congratulations are also due, to the University of Mumbai and to all the Colleges associated with these initiatives.
As Chancellor of Universities, I wish to see the Commission working with all universities and colleges to ensure greater participation of young voters in the election process.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Maharashtra State Election Commission is perhaps the busiest Election Commissions in the country.
As has been mentioned, the State Election Commission has the Herculean task of conducting elections for 2.5 lakhs seats in 27 Municipal Corporations, 400 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats, 34 Zilla Parishads, 351 Panchayat Samitis and around 28000 Gram Panchaysts ! The Commission deserves our wholehearted appreciation for doing full justice to its work by conducting these elections in a free and fair manner in keeping with the spirit of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments.
According to the 2011 Census, the population of Maharashtra is 11.23 crore. By any conservative estimate, the population of the State has surpassed 11.5 crore by now.
This means, population of Maharashtra alone is higher than the population of Germany, Australia and New Zealand put together ! The job of the State Election Commission is therefore no less tough than the job of election conducting authorities of these countries !
Ladies and gentlemen,
After the last midterm Presidential Elections in the United States, it was found that the voter’s turnout was lowest during the last fifty years. A survey was conducted to find the causes of the low turn out.
According to a U.S. Census report from 2013, fourteen percent of non-voting respondents were unable to participate because of an illness or disability, 8.6 percent were out of town, 12.7 percent did not like the candidates or campaign issues and almost 19 percent were too busy.
Fortunately, in our country, people, especially in rural and semi-urban areas are more enthusiastic about the elections and take great interest in the democratic process. They will go to the polling booth even if they are ill ! One fact we have to admit that people in rural areas are more serious to exercise their franchise than urban people.
However, the voter turn-out in Municipal Corporation election, especially in Mumbai is relatively low. In some areas, the voting percentage is less than 40 per cent.
I think we must conduct a survey to find out why voter turn out is low in some areas, so that specific steps can be taken to redress the issues.
I find that the transfer of names from one place to another is very tedious. There are many people who are registered elsewhere and find it difficult to transfer their names to their present place of residence.
I think we must explore ways to make the process of transfer of names easy.
Secondly, there are some countries where there is automatic registration of voters once they turn 18. I think, we must explore the possibility of involving colleges and universities in the enrollment of students.
Quite often, we read stories of names missing from the voters list. If some film star complains about his name missing from the voter’s list, it becomes a news. Therefore every care should be taken to make sure that the names are not deleted without proper scrutiny.
Thanks to the digitization and demonetization initiative of the government, the Municipal Elections and ZP are going to become the cashless elections.
I am glad to note that Income Tax Officers have been appointed as Expenditure Observers for the first time.
I applaud and support the State Election Commission for its excellent initiatives and wish it success in its endeavours.
Thank you !