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Odishatv Bureau
Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission on Tuesday said it was examining a proposal to reduce the minimum age for voting right to 16 years from the existing 18.

"We may recommend to the government to reduce the minimum voting age to 16 years, if more youths, particularly new voters, participate in the electoral process," Chief Election Commissioner Y S Quraishi told a meeting organised by Youth United for Voter Awareness (YUVA), an NGO.

Though above 35 per cent of voters were youths, their participation was the lowest, he said.

Quraishi said though the minimum voting right age was reduced to 18 from 21 years, participation of new voters was not up to expectation.

As the present day youths were well versed with technologies and comparatively better informed, there was no harm in reducing the minimum voting right age to 16 years, he said.

The EC will launch an awareness drive among students to inform about the rights and significance of participation, he said.

The awareness campaign would include meetings, rallies, seminars and other activities to attract youths to the electoral process, the CEC said after releasing a document prepared by YUVA on youth participation in elections.

Quraishi also said the EC was working on establishing the Indian Institute of Democratic Studies on the lines of IIT and IIM to educate government officials, students and others from within the country and abroad about various aspects of the democratic processes.

This apart, the EC was also in contact with Income Tax department and will use its mechanism and intelligence to keep a tab on the flow of black money into election arena.

Voicing concern over publication of "paid news" during election campaign, Quraishi said "the Commission had issued notices to 86 candidates in Bihar and some of them have confessed to have paid money for the news in local media."

Quraishi said the EC was also examining whether any other legal action could be taken against those persons.

Officials from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal participated in the two-day meet.

The EC appreciated Kandhamal District Collector`s efforts of holding votes for displaced people and Ganjam district administration`s effort of keeping a tab on the vehicles used during polls by political parties and candidates.

"Some officials from the East Zone states will be taken as think-tank on electoral reform processes being carried out by the EC," he said. 

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