Meghalaya 2023: DEO strives for 90% turnout in upcoming polls
Outreach Programme in East Khasi Hills

Shillong: The Office of the District Election Officer in East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, organized a District Level Outreach Programme for low-turnout polling stations on Monday, and it was attended by a large number of locality heads.

As the state is approaching elections, the office is taking all necessary steps to spread awareness about the importance of voting, the DEO office said.

The programme was attended by the East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner S.C Sadhu, Assistant Commissioner Saloni Verma, Booth Level Officers and the Headmen of various localities in the Shillong urban area.

With the aim of addressing the issue of low voter turnout in urban areas, Deputy Commissioner SC Sadhu stated that everyone needs to work together to achieve a voter turnout of 90% or higher this year.

According to the District Election Officer (DEO), they visited five localities in Shillong that had low voter turnout in the 2018 elections.

Among them, the polling station with the lowest voter turnout was 13-Mawryngkneng, Mawiong Sung, Khongshnong, with a male voter turnout of 62.07% and a female voter turnout of 44.62%, resulting in a total turnout of 54.61%. Another polling station, 15-Mawlai, Umshing Mawkynroh C, had a total voter turnout of 49.11% in 2018 (49.61% for males and 48.62% for females).

Assistant Commissioner Saloni Verma stated that the purpose of this session was to encourage an interactive discussion between the headmen and the officials.

They asked for the headmen’s support in engaging the people to come out and vote in large numbers. Verma mentioned that Meghalaya has a high literacy rate, which is reflected in the high voter turnout in past elections and is a matter of pride.

Deputy Commissioner SC Sadhu emphasized the importance of being impartial while carrying out duties and avoiding any attempt to influence voters. He stated that Booth Level Officers and Headmen should be neutral in their actions. Sadhu expressed concern over the low female voter turnout in some polling stations, which was less than 50%. He encouraged women to come forward and participate in the voting process.

During the programme, the Headmen of Kench’s Trace locality suggested that the government should take stringent action against government employees who do not exercise their franchise. However, the Deputy Commissioner responded that it would be a violation of the right to freedom.

Another headman suggested that the DEO should reward the five polling stations with high voter turnout, as it will encourage the community and localities to work together.

During the programme, some headmen sought clarification on the issue of dual voters and the need to update the electoral list. They suggested that announcements through the PA system could be made three days before the elections to remind people to participate and vote.

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