The Election Commission of India (ECI) organized a one day workshop on Social Media for Voters Participation for integrating citizens with the electoral process through the popular social media on the internet particularly the youth. It was held here yesterday at the newly created India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIDEM) at the initiative of the SVEEP (Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation) Division of the Commission. The workshop was inaugurated by the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr. S.Y. Quraishi. There were about 70 participants including senior officers of the Election Commission, Chief Electoral Officers of states, representatives of various organizations like Google, UNICEF, Universities, advertising agencies, IT organizations, media houses, NSS, Government Organizations, NGOs and other reputed institutions. This was the first time a workshop on these lines was organized by the Election Commission of India.
The workshop discussed modalities of Election Commission of India’s engagement with internet based social media like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogs etc., which is to commence very soon.
The Chief Election Commissioner of India underlined that higher participation of voters and ethical voting are the key to strengthening electoral democracy. He underlined that Commission has developed and implemented a strong agenda on voter’s education and expenditure control and would like its proposed reforms on decriminalization of elections to become a reality at the earliest. He called upon voters to turnout in high numbers and select good candidates instead of castigating politicians. Dr. S.Y. Quraishi said voter education will address the citizen’s need in all three areas: information, motivation and facilitation.
Dr. S.Y. Quraishi commended the SVEEP division for ensuring consistent increase in voter’s turnout in the last general elections in seven states through scientific research and programme interventions. The CEC announced that the campaigns will be made even more vigorous to fill the gaps in registration in various age groups, reduce gender inequalities and maximize voter’s turnout. He highlighted the strength and spread of social media and observed that the Election Commission cannot overlook its outreach. The CEC concluded saying that measures like engagement with social media will contribute to India’s step up, from being the largest democracy to the greatest democracy.
The Election Commissioner, Sh. V.S Sampath in his valedictory remarks described social media as a new area for the Commission which is full of possibilities. He hoped that the goals and objectives of the Commission will be advanced through dissemination of information on social media.
Sh. Akshay Rout, Director General outlined the range of initiatives and activities taken up by the SVEEP Division since its inception and pointed to the challenges lying ahead in forms of electoral participation of citizens. The workshop in groups dealt with the themes of (i) Content Creation (ii) Monitoring and Feedback Mechanism (iii) Implementation Structure (iv) Integration with ECI website (v) Launch Strategy and came out with recommendations. It concluded that Election Commission of India should start engaging with all citizens and voters through the social media at the earliest in a well thought out and planned manner in order to achieve its objectives.