Election Commission of India launches Voter Awareness Forums

These are informal Forums for generating awareness around electoral process through activities like discussions, quizzes, competitions and other engaging activities.

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Voter Awareness Forum (VAF) was recently launched by Election Commission of India (ECI) in New Delhi. Similar VAFs were also launched by the Chief Electoral Officers in the State capitals and by District Election Officers in the Districts simultaneously.

VAFs are informal Forums for generating awareness around electoral process through activities like discussions, quizzes, competitions and other engaging activities. All employees of organisation are expected to become members of the VAF with the Head of the organisation acting as the Chair.

VAF is part of the Electoral Literacy Club programme of ECI. Launched on the 8th National Voters Day on January 25, 2018, the ELC programme envisages setting up of Electoral Literacy Club in every educational institution and ‘Chunav Pathshala’ at every booth to cover those outside the formal education system. As per the official data, around 2.11 Lakh ELCs have already been established across the country in the first year of the launch of the programme.

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While addressing the nodal officers from 44 Ministries, Government of India, and representatives from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi, the Commission exhorted them to immediately set up VAFs and facilitate enrolment of all employees and officials on the electoral roll.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that the founding fathers of the Constitution had an instinctive faith in the citizenry of the country and therefore gifted Universal Adult Franchise to the Indian populace while other democracies took years before extending this right to all its citizens.

“It is therefore our collective responsibility to value and preserve this right and in this endeavour VAFs have a crucial role to play,” Arora said.

Arora also asked the nodal officers to commit themselves to the aim of the VAFs which is to promote informed and ethical electoral participation, beginning from the first step of voter registration.

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa said thousands of unnamed and faceless Government officials undertake the task of preserving the electoral process, in different capacities and roles. Hailing the Officers as “Ambassadors of Democracy”, Lavasa said that as nodal officers, now they are invested with the additional responsibility of educating colleagues and staff in their work place and ensuring that all the members of their ministry and departments are familiar with the electoral procedure right from enrolment to the casting of the vote.

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Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner stressed on the ‘Voter Verification and Information’ drive that the Commission is taking up and asked VAF to facilitate members to check their names and details on Electoral Roll through online NVSP portal of ECI and the Voter Helpline No. 1950.

“The half-day briefing was aimed to familarise the officers from various ministries and federations with the concept of VAFs and to brief them about their role as nodal officers of the VAFs.”

Similar briefing sessions are being held across the country by the Chief Electoral Officers and District Election Officers across the country with nodal officers of departments, non-govt departments, Civil Society Organisations, corporate and media houses in the State and District.