Chief Secretary Donald P Wahlang has urged electors to actively participate in the upcoming Assembly elections and to beat the turnout of 86.65 per cent at the last general election and cross the threshold of 95 per cent.
Addressing the National Voters Day event in Shillong today, Wahlang said citizens who have attained the age of 18 plays a crucial role in ensuring that the fundamentals of democracy, a government by the people, of the people and for the people, are kept alive.
There are 21.65 lakh voters in Meghalaya, with femalses (10.92 lakh) outnumbering males (10.68 lakh). The chief secretary said that Meghalaya is one of the few states in the country where there are more women voters than males. He added that there are 290 voters who are above 100 years of age, 22,658 voters who are above 80 years of age and, for the first time; there are two voters from the third gender. Another 7,400 voters are disabled and 81,443 voters are first-timers, comprising 4 per cent of the total number of voters.
Wahlang also congratulated the CEO, Frederick Roy Kharkongor, for organising and mobilising all the resources and the different events which will go a long way in creating awareness among the voters, especially the young voters. He also lauded the Election Commission for its initiatives in making sure more neutrality is embedded in the system and for providing facilities in polling stations such as drinking water, ramps for the disabled, electricity in remote locations and toilets.
The day was marked around the state, with the event having special significance given that the state will go to the polls on February 27. The day is held to commemorate the foundation of the Election Commission of India. This year’s theme was ‘Vote for Sure-Nothing like Voting’.
The Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills also organised the distribution of EPICs at the block level and a street gig through the Meghalaya Grassroots Music Project.
Prizes were distributed of various competitions organised as part of the day. Daaihun Readington, a BA first year student of Shillong Commerce College, won first prize in an essay competition on the value of one vote. Darshana Patowary, a Class 8 student of Loreto Convent, came first in the debate on the topic of disenfranchising citizens who fail to vote in two consecutive elections.
In Mawkyrwat, the district administration of South West Khasi Hills in collaboration with the District Sports Officer held the National Voters Day Run.
There were a total of 227 runners in three categories – U-12, 13-17 and 18-plus for males and females.
Winners of the U-12 categories won Rs 3,000 in prize money, with the winners in the other two divisions being awarded Rs 5,000 each. Runners up to sixth position also received cash prizes, while there were also prizes for the oldest and the youngest runners.
In Mendipathar, North Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, RP Marak, addressed a gathering as the chief guest and urged the people to exercise their franchise by participating in every election actively and fearlessly.
While highlighting the objective of the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme, the DC stated that the awareness on voter education was minimal prior to the launching of SVEEP.
The Superintendent of Police, Shailendra Bamaniya, added that the purpose of the programme is to identify and motivate first time voters to participate in the electoral process with an informed choice making the right decision in choosing the electoral representative.
As part of the programme, five young voters from Resubelpara constituency were identified and presented with their EPICs.
In Khliehriat, the district administration organised a cycle rally to create awareness about voting and to motivate the citizens, especially the first-time voters. The rally was flagged off by the Additional Deputy Commissioner A Nongbri from Lad Sohkymphor and the rally concluded at the Deputy Commissioner’s office.