Assembly elections: How Facebook, Twitter are helping boost voter turnout

If you are a voter in Tamil Nadu and a fan of Ravichandran Ashwin or Dinesh Karthik, a simple tweet can help you pocket an e-postcard signed by your favourite cricketer. All you need to do is upload on Twitter a selfie that shows your finger marked with indelible ink to prove that you have voted on May 16, the day the southern state goes to the polls. Twitter has created a unique emoji of a finger with the black dot, and has signed an agreement with the chief electoral officer of Tamil Nadu to create voter awareness and give voting-day reminders to its users.

Rajesh Lakhani, the state’s chief electoral officer, told ET Magazine: “Roping in Facebook and Twitter is one of the many strategies adopted by us to reach our target of 80% turnout in Tamil Nadu — seven percentage points higher than that of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. We have launched voter-awareness campaigns through milk packets, shopping bags, paintings and sand sculptures.”

Raheel Khursheed, head of news, politics and government partnerships, Twitter India, says social media played a pivotal role in bringing people out to vote in the 2014 general elections, and then in Delhi and Bihar assembly polls. “Based on user response, 2014 Lok Sabha elections can be called India’s first Twitter election… Tamil Nadu poll is not going to be different,”

Iyer says people of Kerala are politically aware but the challenge is to convert that awareness into votes. As part of the Kottayam district administration, which organised 31 poll-related events in the last one and half months, she realised the need for a street song that could give momentum to the elections.

Iyer, who started learning music at the age of four and studied medicine before joining the IAS, volunteered to sing the song. “Rhythm is essential to convert elections into a festival of democracy. The idea of this song was to create that rhythm,” she adds.

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