Vote and Win Prizes: Kerala District Woos Voters

We have seen candidates offering all sorts of goodies and even cash to voters to vote in their favour. Now, perhaps for the first time in the country, a district administration will offer incentives among other measures to draw more voters to booths.

Pathanamthitta, Kerala’s youngest district, which is home to the famous Sabarimala Temple of Lord Ayyappa, clocked 68.22 per cent polling in 2011 Assembly elections as against the state average of 75.12 per cent. Polling percentage was also lower during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Faced with below par polling percentage in recent elections compared to the state average, the administration has hit upon the idea of offering incentives and lucky draws to those who cast their votes in the May 16 assembly elections.

District Collector S. Hari Kishor, who is also the District Election Officer, has drawn up a three-pronged strategy to increase the voting percentage this time.

As part of the plan, a ‘Vote and Win’ contest will be organised in 100 selected booths, where the polling percentage was below 60 per cent in the last two elections, Hari Kishor said. Voters returning after casting their franchise will be handed over a ‘Thank you’ card, which will have a specific number. A total of one lakh cards are to be distributed.

Lucky draws would be conducted for this one lakh and the winners would be given ‘attractive’ prizes. Also, letters will be sent to all the voters in the 100 polling booths, asking them to ensure that they cast their franchise on May 16. Besides, a Systematic voters education and Election Programme (SVEEP) has been drawn up to attract voters to the 891 polling booths in the district— 803 of which are in villages and 88 in cities.