Maximising youth voting ­­­ By: Parul Purwar



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Family

The National Civic and Political Engagement of Young People Survey was conducted In the USA .The results that came were that The data shows that if a young adult has a primary parent or guardian that is ‘very interested’ in politics and public affairs, then they have just under an 84% chance of definitely voting. It revealed the huge drop off when respondents said they had a politically disinterested parent or guardian.

The trend is similar in India. If a family votes then so will the children in that family. On the other hand, families who consider politics as dirty and a waste of time tend to negatively influence the youngsters in their family.

Education
Teachers and schools have a major hand in development of a child. If civic duties are instilled in a child from basic and the value of voting is emphasised in school then we can expect a rise in the voter turnout. Seeing the outcome of the “no cracker “ campaign in Delhi , one can safely assume that school kids if rightly taught and guided can cause a major impact.
Similarly, colleges where political awareness hand Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (S.V.E.E.P) activities were carried out have seen immense participation in politics from among the students. An example is the Halim Muslim College in Kanpur. The SVEEP activities carried out there saw enormous participation from the student community. They took out rallies to convince people to vote and they voted as well. The participation from the students as told by Mr. K.N Mishra the head of the SVEEP activities was around 85%.

Media

Media has an important role to play in the elections. It is the media’s ethical responsibility to tell the citizens about the candidates that are standing in the elections and make them politically aware. The media involves the print media, television, radio and newspapers.

The rules that involve the media are the following: There should be no coverage of any election speeches or other material that incites violence, one religion against, another one caste against another one language group against another etc.

In any constituency only one candidate should not be projected. While it is not necessary to cover every single candidate (as some constituencies may have several candidates) at least the more important should be covered in any report from a constituency.



In Kanpur a morning show was running a campaign on the Red FM titled a campaign called “Aao Ungli Karein” which was about instilling political responsibility among the citizens of Kanpur .About 2500 people responded to this program. This shows that the media can play a huge role in educating voters.



Figure 11: Role of Media, Data courtesy NES 2009

Similarly Hindustan time and HT had started a campaign called “Aao Rajneeti Karo” .This campaign was aimed at removing the negativity associated with the elections and politics as a whole. They had conclaves, campus adds and ran a know your candidates series. The first thing they started with was to inform people about media ethics. This they did to clear people’s doubts about whether the information was doctored or real. They claimed that these campaigns made people aware voters.



Government

During the survey I conducted the main suggestions I got for increasing voter turnout was to decrease corruption and the number of politicians with criminal records. People don’t turn out for voting as they believe that any government that comes to power will be inefficient and turn a deaf ear to their concerns. To bring people to vote we need to see a change in the way that the government function.



At present its image is unapproachable and cold. Government officials believe themselves to be superior to the common man and misuse their office. This impacts the citizens adversely and hence they have no faith in the government.



Figure 12: How satisfied are you with your govt., data courtesy NES 2009

Candidates

An important factor in voter turnout is the reason to vote. Voter mobilization is another important factor. It gives voter a stringer incentive to vote on an otherwise busy day. If there is higher competition or a clear difference among candidates then voters are more likely to vote. A candidate can be strongly influence the voter turnout. If he/she during the campaigning can leave a positive impact in the voters mind then it is more likely that they will turn up to vote for him/her. During my field visit to Mr.Ganesh Tiwari’s (Candidate for Kanpur Mayoral Elections), I saw the impact they were having on voters. The campaigning was not just targeted at persuading voters to vote for him but to also persuade reluctant voters to participate in the elections.






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