| Students draw a rangoli during an election-awareness campaign at DHSK College in Dibrugarh. File picture |
Guwahati, March 27: The Assam election department has asked leading educational institutions in the state to appoint meritorious and proactive students as “campus ambassadors” to motivate first-time and young voters in a bid to increase the voter turnout in the Lok Sabha elections.
An official associated with the chief electoral officer of Assam told The Telegraph that the move has come after the Election Commission observed that the state was lagging behind in creating awareness among people to exercise their franchise.
He said there was an urgent need to take a slew of initiatives to motivate people, especially the younger generation, in Assam to cast their votes. Appointment of campus ambassadors was just one of them.
Assam will have three-phase polls on April 7, 12 and 24. Of the state’s 18,722,325 electorate, 16.6 per cent are in the age group of 18 to 25 years. There will be 4 lakh first-time voters in the state.
The official said the campus ambassadors would make creative endeavours to inform, encourage and motivate students to register for the electoral rolls and to vote. The election department will bear the expenses for all such events.
“The campus ambassadors will particularly interact with first-time voters to ensure that they do not miss the opportunity to vote in this election. The first-time voters may be confused or have doubts for which they would be looking for someone to guide them,” the official said.
The campus ambassadors will be in constant touch with the state election department to solve problems that might come in the way of first-time and young voters to exercise their franchise smoothly.
“Elector’s Photo Identity Card has been distributed among voters in the state for the first time. Some first-time voters might not have received the cards for various reasons and this might deter them from casting their votes. The campus ambassadors will tell the first-time voters that the cards would not be mandatory as proof to vote and they can show their institution’s identity cards for the purpose,” the official said. Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Gauhati University, Cotton College, Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh, Assam University, Silchar and Dibrugarh University are some of the institutions which have been asked to appoint campus ambassadors. The higher education department might be asked to identify more colleges for the purpose.
The official said the GMCH and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College at Barpeta have already appointed campus ambassadors. “We hope that rest of the institutions will appoint their ambassadors at the earliest. To motivate the campus ambassadors, we will give them remuneration. Teachers should also take an interest in the initiative,” the official said.