With a potential 6.61 crore people still left to vote for the 41 parliamentary constituencies that go to polls Monday, Indian voters look set to beat the highest ever turnout of 64.01 per cent that was recorded in the eighth Lok Sabha election of 1984-85. In the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, as many as 25.62 crore voters out of a total 40.03 crore had voted in those Lok Sabha polls.
The 502 seats that have gone to polls so far this time have already seen a 66.27 per cent voter turnout. From the remaining 6.61 crore of the 83.05-crore-strong electorate, a turnout just exceeding 2.5 0 crore, or around 38 per cent, will take the overall turnout past the 1984-85 record.
“As of now, we are already two percentage points higher than the highest turnout the country has ever seen. May 12 could end up smashing that record,” the Election Commission’s director general Akshay Rout told The Indian Express.
For May 12, the electorate is 3.16 crore voters in Uttar Pradesh for 18 seats, 2.56 crore in West Bengal for 17 seats, and over 88 lakh for six Bihar seats.
All the EC is hoping for is for the current voter upsurge to continue on Monday. But given the heat-wave that has gripped parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, there is a fear that a poor show on Monday could pull down the cumulative turnout rate. “We are trying our best to ensure that we don’t go below the existing record of 64.01 percent,” an official said.
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As per data compiled till now, of the 32 states and union territories where polls have been completed, as many as 30 have recorded a turnout that is higher than it was in the 2009 general elections. “In fact, 17 of these 32 states and union territories have recorded their highest voter turnouts ever,” Rout said.
While smaller states such as Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa and union territories such as Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Puducherry, Daman & Diu, Chandigarh were expected to have high voter turnouts in any case, it is larger states such as Orissa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Rajasthan where the turnouts have been unprecedented.
During the 2009 polls, 41.72 crore voters of a total 71.69 crore had voted for a turnout of 58.19 per cent. During the last three Lok Sabha elections, voter turnouts had failed to touch even 60 per cent. After the 1984-85 record was set, the highest voter turnout witnessed in the country was 61.97 per cent for the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998.