With Lok Sabha elections due next year, more than two-thirds of the 4.85 crore population in the 18-19 age group are still not enrolled as voters. Election Commission data also shows that enrolment of first-time voters in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which go to polls this year, is almost as low.
According to data on voter enrolment obtained from the Election Commission by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act, of the estimated 4.85 crore population in the 18-19 age group (or millennium voters), 3.42 crore or 70.51 per cent will not be able to exercise their franchise if elections are held on the basis of the present voter list.
Only 29.49 per cent (1.43 crore) of the projected population of this age group in the country is in the voter list as of January 1, 2018. In contrast, the percentage of all eligible voters who are enrolled is 63.75 per cent. According to EC data, the total projected population in the country for 2018 is 137.63 crore and 87.75 crore of them are eligible to vote.
Data for first-time voters in Karnataka (33.67 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (21.19 per cent) and Rajasthan (46.58 per cent) shows a similar trend of low enrolment.
Before the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, EC data showed that of the 1.79 lakh new voters on average in each constituency, the 18-19 age group accounted for about 24 per cent or around 43,000. The winning margin was less than this in 226 Lok Sabha constituencies in the 2009 elections.
Even in states where polls concluded — Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland — the enrolment of the 18-19 age group was poor, but in Tripura the enrolment was above the estimated population of this age group. In Mizoram, just 20.38 per cent of the 18-19 age group were enrolled while that figure for Nagaland stood at 26.85 per cent and 57.73 per cent in Meghalaya.
A senior EC official said that the commission’s Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme was aimed at bringing all eligible citizens into the electoral fold. “Our theme for 2017 was ‘Empowering Young and Future Voters’, in consonance with which the Commission undertook a series of campaigns, including the Interactive School Engagement (ISE) project, National Elections Quiz (NEQ) and the recently-launched Electoral Literacy Clubs (ELCs) for schools, colleges and communities, aimed to sensitise and build awareness within this crucial target group,” the official said.
“We have a scientific-process in place to develop and design interventions. With an effective system in place at the national, state and district-level to track, monitor and improve upon our existing projects channelised towards the concerned group, the EC, keeping an eye on the vital significance that this category holds, is presently working on a dedicated set of targeted and popular engagement ventures focused on the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections of 2019,” the official said.
According to the data, enrolment of the 18-19 age group in at least 21 states is lesser than 30 per cent. These states comprise Andhra Pradesh (20.2%), Arunachal Pradesh (27.12%), Bihar (26.63%); Gujarat (21.55%), Haryana (13.26%), Himachal Pradesh (24.47%), Jammu and Kashmir (28.49%), Kerala (15.18%), Maharashtra (29.5%), Madhya Pradesh (21.19%), Manipur (27.71%), Odisha (28.96%), Punjab (25.25%), Sikkim (13.05%), Uttarakhand (21.85%), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (12.54%), Chandigarh (12.81%) and Delhi (16.23%).