When we think about voter education, most people assume that it is only the responsibility of Election Commission or the government to introduce activities aimed at making voters aware of their rights and responsibilities. Well, think again – because there’s so much at an individual like you and I can do to promote voter education! In this blog we’ll discuss the many ways and means through which each of us can contribute to community voter awareness raising activities.
There are a miscellany of actions that provide information on election procedures to both current and future voters. Most of them will take position outside the premises of District Election Commission offices. By being part of such awareness sessions, we can learn a whole host of things that we can do to support Election Commission f Pakistan’s efforts to educate voters.
Various activities, depending on our own interest, resources or comfort can be adopted for raising awareness among voters. A typical but very effective activity can be (participating in or organizing) awareness raising walks/rallies. These walks and rallies present a highly visible and participatory way of distributing information. They can take place in villages/townships/cities with students, District Coordination Officers, union council offices, Civil Society Organizations, rights’ activists, trade union members, bar association members, press club members, private corporations, local government line departments and other collaborators. Motivational posters and banners encouraging people, especially voters from marginalized groups, to register and turn up to vote, as well as informational messages developed by DECs can be displayed during the event. Bear in mind that local agencies will have to be approached before the event to receive a no objection certificate and agree upon a path that is both secure and visible. Voter education materials such as stickers, brochures, etc., developed by the Election Commission can also be distributed to community members during the event.
Baithak can be another activity for community awareness as these are community based meetings. Baithaks are very popular in rural areas across Pakistan. Such meetings can be arranged at the village level to share information and educate voters on electoral processes. All categories of eligible voters can be invited to these meetings.
Another activity that can take place with the help of DEC is “Mock Elections Simulate”. Such an activity simulates actual voting and counting procedures at the polling place on Election Day. The aim of the simulation is to present voting and counting mechanisms to the intended audience, by involving them in the process through participatory interactions. The target of the simulation is any group of voters or future citizens.
other activities might include Interactive Presentations and Q&A sessions on electoral processes, for this activity DEC members will have to be invited to visit sites frequented by eligible voters to furnish data on electoral processes and answer related questions from the community.
District Committee members and other stakeholders may help organize and deliver these presentations. Target groups cover all eligible voters, particularly those from marginalized groups such as women, youth, minorities and the disabled.. The presentations may be oral or conducted with the aid of multimedia facilities (where such facilities are available).
Finally, debates, skits and poetry competitions are the most easily conducted activities. Collaborations can be made with DECs and educational institutes. To spread awareness to the broader public, community members may be invited to attend these events at the premises of the institution or students could venture out to conduct the activities at venues frequented by eligible voters from the community, such as arts councils, community centres, government offices, clubs and associations, etc. DECs may facilitate the events by providing educational material, banners, honourary prizes and certificates. Sample topics for the activities can be ‘signifigance of the right to vote’, ‘why have elections’, or ‘need to accept elections result peacefully’.
So there! Now you know how you can become an educator for the eligible voters in your area by dedicating just a lttle bit of your time and energy!