Delhi’s record voter turnout this assembly elections may have fuelled hopes of a change but going by the record turnout across all the five states that went to polls over the past one month,days of linking turnout to incumbency may be over for good,according to polling officials.
On Wednesday,Delhis turnout was 65.86 per cent. While the turnout of male voters was recorded at 65.48 per cent,that of the females was 64.68 per cent.
This elections,all the five states have shown an increase in polling,ranging from a little below 1 per cent in Mizoram to more than 10 per cent in Delhi. In Chhattisgarh and Mizoram,women voters outnumbered men. This despite the threat from Maoist extremists in Chhattisgarh.
A substantial fraction of this high turnout,election officials say,was likely because of first-time voters. In the last five years,registration of first-time voters has been the highest.
The reason for the massive polling percentages,they believe,is not politics but the voter education exercise undertaken over the past decade. Inclusion of the none-of-the-above option too has ensured more people come out to vote.
Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi says in the 21 elections since the Election Commission started its voter awareness drive SVEEP (Systematic Education for Electoral Participation) in 2009-10 polling percentage has steadily risen in every state.
He says the only reason for the high turnout is SVEEP that has ensured that the Election Commission developed population-specific communication strategies. Since we started the programme in 2009-10 this is the 21st state where the polling percentage has gone up and women have been outnumbering men, he says.
In fact,all the old notions of anti-incumbency and pro-incumbency stand overturned because there is clearly no set pattern to be seen any more in the high voter turnout. However,in Delhi an incremental factor has been the Aam Aadmi Party. There has been immense mobilisation because of them, he says.
Senior functionaries of the Election Commission say cleaner electoral rolls achieved through the de-duplication software,massive enrolment of new voters,particularly young,first-time voters and voter awareness drives are the main reasons for the sharp increase in voting percentages.
The appointment of awareness observers for two weeks before voting day and the decision on giving the none-of-the-above option on the EVM are the other reasons. But,most importantly,the increase reflects the unquestioned faith in democracy among the masses, says an official.
CHHATTISGARH (90 SEATS)
* This year turnout is 77 per cent. Out of 1.69 crore voters,1.30 crore voted. Women voters outnumbered men by 0.4 per cent.
* In 2008,polling percentage was 70.61. Out of 1.52 crore voters,1.07 crore voted (55.11 lakh men and 52.19 lakh women).
MADHYA PRADESH (230 SEATS)
* This time,turnout is 72.52 per cent. Of 4.64 crore voters,3.36 crore voted (73.80 per cent men and 70.10 per cent women).
* In 2008,polling percentage was 69.52. Out of 3.62 crore voters,2.52 crore cast their votes.
MIZORAM (40 SEATS)
* This time,turnout is 81.29 per cent. Of 6.86 lakh voters,5.57 lakh (2.70 lakh men and 2.87 lakh women) voted.
* In 2008,of the 6.11 lakh voters,4.89 lakh (2.38 lakh males and 2.51 lakh females) cast their votes.
RAJASTHAN (200 SEATS)
* This year,the polling percentage is 72.52 (73.80% men and 70.10% women). Of the 4.64 crore voters,3.36 crore voted.
* In 2008,the polling percentage was 66.48. Out of 3.61 crore voters,2.40 crore voted.
DELHI (70 SEATS)
* Final figures being still compiled. Of the 1.19 crore voters,there are four lakh first-time voters.
* In 2008,voting percentage stood at 57.58. Of 1.07 crore voters,61.76 lakh (34.81 lakh men and 26.94 lakh women) voted.