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Monday, May 20, 2024

EC urges telecom operators to increase voter turnout through SMS campaigns

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In Short:

The Election Commission of India wants telecom operators to send 100 million SMSes daily to voters to increase polling percentage in ongoing general election. However, telcos can handle only 20 million SMSes a day due to capacity constraints. The first two phases saw 66% polling, lower than 2019 polls, possibly due to hot weather. ECI also increasing scrutiny of political party campaigns to ensure they don’t exceed expenditure limits.

Election Commission of India Urges Telecom Operators to Increase Voter Awareness

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken note of the decline in polling percentage during the first two phases of the ongoing general election when compared to previous polls. In response, the ECI is pushing telecom operators to send SMSes to voters, urging them to participate in larger numbers in the upcoming phases.

Negotiations and Capacity Concerns

While the ECI aims for around 100 million SMSes to be sent daily, telecom operators have expressed limitations, citing a capacity of about 20 million SMSes per day. Discussions involving the Department of Telecommunications, Election Commission officials, and telecom executives are ongoing to reach a consensus on the number of promotional messages to be sent.

Upcoming Phases and Counting

The final phase of polling is scheduled for June 1, with vote counting set for June 4. The planned messages are expected to be dispatched before the third phase of polls on May 7.

Efforts to Boost Participation

Despite sporadic messages sent previously, the ECI is now emphasizing the need to increase voter awareness. Telecom operators, while not direct stakeholders in polling, play a crucial role in facilitating digital activities during elections and other significant events.

Ensuring Fairness and Transparency

The ECI is also intensifying scrutiny on SMS and voice call campaigns by political parties to maintain the integrity of the election process. Efforts to track campaign spending through various channels are being implemented to prevent breaches of expenditure limits set for candidates.

Financial Regulations for Election Spending

The ECI imposes expenditure limits on candidates for both Lok Sabha and assembly elections to ensure fairness. While registered political parties do not have specific limits, the ECI monitors and audits spending to uphold transparency in the electoral process.

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