Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom EC's youth icons

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom will be the Election Commission's (EC) national icons, the commission said Tuesday.

Besides badminton player Nehwal and pugilist Kom, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and cricket captain M.S. Dhoni will also be national icons to attract youth, the EC said.

"Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom will be our new national icons besides Kalam and Dhoni," Director General at the EC Akshay Rout told reporters.

Both the olympic winners have been roped in to attract more youths in the 18-19 age bracket, he said, adding that the number of first-time voters was 1.76 crore out of the total 77.78 crore electorate as on Jan 1, 2013.

Rout said the poll panel's drive last year to revise the voters' list added 2.32 crore citizens to the national voter list. Of these, 93 lakh people will be first-time voters, he said.

"We have seen an improvement in the percentage of first-time voters in the past two years. We want to add many more," he said.

Continuing its drive to involve more citizens, especially youths, in the electoral process, the poll panel will observe the third National Voters Day Jan 25 when photo identity cards will be given to some first-time voters.

Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal will be given the best state award for performance on various poll management parameters besides recognising the contribution of select district collectors and superintendents of police, said Rout.

The National Voters Day coincides with the foundation day of the EC.

While Vice President Hamid Ansari will address the national function in Delhi, similar events will be organised at 6.5 lakh locations across 8.4 lakh polling stations in the country, he said.

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