The Union Cabinet, on January 20, 2011, approved of January 25 to be celebrated as the National Voters’ Day. The participation of young voters in the electoral machinery has been poor (in certain cases, as low as 20-25%). The cabinet’s decision to celebrate the National Voters’ Day came as an endeavor to encourage young voters to participate in election procedures. An NGO, Youth United for Voter Awareness (YUVA), is spearheading the campaign. The Current Ad was issued from www.ceodelhi.nic.in.
National Voters’ Day: All New Voters to get EPIC
To deal with the problem of decreasing number of young voters in the country, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to annually identify all voters who will attain the age of 18 on January 1, in all the 8.5 lakh polling stations in the country.
Subsequently, these voters will be enrolled and given their Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) on the National Voters’ Day at a felicitation ceremony which will be organized in the respective polling area. This initiative is expected to create a sense of ‘responsible citizenship, empowerment, pride and participation’ in the youth of today which, in turn, would motivate them to use their franchise.
Voting Age: A Brief History
The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Bill, 1988 lowered the age of voting from 21 years to 18 years. The amendment was made in view of the fact that several countries had adopted 18 years as the official voting age. Furthermore, several states in India allowed 18-year olds to vote for the local authorities.
It was observed that the youth was “literate and enlightened” and “politically conscious” and that “lowering of the voting age would provide to the unrepresented youth of the country an opportunity to give vent to their feelings and help them become a part of the political process.” This led to the official voting age being lowered to 18 years.
However, year after year, it was observed that the modern day young voters were not getting involved in the election procedures in a big way, and continued to remain indifferent to elections as they could not identify with their political leaders. Let’s hope that the National Voters’ Day initiative changes things for the better.