Since India’s first election in 1951, the electorate has made significant progress. In 2019, voter turnout reached an all-time high at 67.4%, with a remarkable gender parity. Several factors contributed to this achievement, including the introduction of SVEEP (Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation) by the Election Commission of India in 2009. SVEEP, a flagship initiative, focuses on voter education, awareness and voter literacy. Amid calls to achieve 75% turnout in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the ECI has raised concerns about a rising voter apathy among urban and young voters. Given that the future of Indian democracy relies on the youth, targeted initiatives, especially for new voters, are crucial. The only such youth-targeted ECI-SVEEP initiative is the Electoral Literacy Club (ELC), aimed at youth in educational institutions and rural communities. Initiated in 2018, ELCs have expanded their reach over time. However, the programme needs universalization and strengthening to meet its objectives.
The only such youth-targeted ECI-SVEEP initiative is the Electoral Literacy Club (ELC), aimed at youth in educational institutions and rural communities.
The study assesses college-level ELCs in Thiruvananthapuram district, Kerala, evaluating their objectives and creating a best-practices framework for colleges. There are 67 ELCs in the district (as of August 2023), which is the lowest coverage in the state. These ELCs, established by the ECI, operate alongside the National Service Scheme due to time, membership, and resource constraints.
To strengthen ELCs, a comprehensive evaluation is essential to address financial and administrative lacunae. ELCs, exemplified by the success of Govt. Higher Secondary School Agali in Palakkad among tribal hamlets like Attappadi, have the potential to significantly boost voter turnout acting as foot soldiers in elections. However, this potential remains untapped in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Therefore, continuous and targeted efforts are crucial for ELCs, as they play a pivotal role in shaping the future youth electorate.