Kolkata, Mar 28: To increase voter turnout and encourage "ethical" voting, the Election Commission is running a high-pitch campaign across West Bengal with special focus on women and young voters.
Messages urging electors to exercise their franchise in a free and fair manner are being put up not only in wall posters, hoardings, media advertisements, but also sent through videos on YouTube. Folk artistes and even announcements at traffic signals are urging voters to cast their vote.
"We are using all mediums available under the sun to pass on this message to the voters that you need to vote and vote without any barriers or inducements. We are promoting ethical voting in a big way. Special attention is being given to women, young and disabled voters," an EC official said.
The campaign under the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) Programme, meant to educate voters and ensure that the experience of voting is smooth and hassle-free, has a budget above of Rs 21 crore.
Officials said they have plans to tie up with mobile network providers to send regular SMSes to voters including a reminder to caste their vote on the day of poll. Although West Bengal has traditionally seen one of the highest voter turnouts in India, yet in terms of percentage there has been a slight fall from the 2011 Assembly elections (84.4 per cent) in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls (82.22 per cent). In 2006 Assembly polls, the voter turnout was 81.7 per cent.
For outdoor campaigns the EC is partnering with various government departments to ensure the poll watchdog gets free advertising space for hoardings and electronic display boards at various places. State icon, Ananya, an 18-year-old girl, is being featured in all outdoor campaign materials as the face of Election Commission in the state.