Haryana is going all out to encourage women to vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state -- from polling booths managed by women to separate queues, toilets and stringent security, the Election Commission is keen to increase their voter percentage this year.
More than 1.74 crore people in Haryana are eligible to exercise their franchise in the 10 Lok Sabha seats of the state, the election for which will be held on May 12 in the first phase. Counting of votes will be done on May 23.
For the first time in the state, 'Sakhi Matdan Kendras' or all-women polling booths will be set up in each assembly segment, Haryana Chief Electoral Officer Rajeev Ranjan said today. "These Kendras will be exclusively run by women and no male personnel will be present on these Kendras."
Mr Ranjan said the initiative will spread the message that women can not only participate in the elections but also conduct the same in an efficient manner.
He said programmes are also being organised regularly to make women voters aware of their rights.
Under the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SWEEP) Programme, women are being made aware through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Anganwadi workers. "The district administration is also organising programmes like rangoli-making and mehendi in which the message of importance of voting is being spread," he added.
As polling begins, "priority would be given to those women who are pregnant and those who have children below three years of age," the official said.
If the number of women in a queue is more than 15, two women would be allowed to cast their vote after every single male voter.
Separate toilets are also being built for women at the polling sites.
"Pick-up and drop facilities as well as wheelchairs will be available for Divyang women voters. Apart from this, arrangement of ramp would be made at each polling centre," Mr Ranjan added.
He said extensive use of social media is being done to encourage young voters too.