PUNJAB HAS witnessed a 65.9 per cent voter turnout this Lok Sabha election, which concluded on Sunday. It is the lowest ever polling in Punjab in five elections — including three Lok Sabha and two Vidhan Sabha — despite an aggressive campaign by the Election Commission (EC) and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Punjab under the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP). It was also lowest since SVEEP was introduced in 2009. Why did the turnout dip despite these efforts?
How many voters in Punjab?
The state had registered a total of 2.07 crore voters on April 29. The figure was 2.03 crore on January 31 this year. Under special summery revision which was coupled with SVEEP, election officials got a large number of new voters registered, and the number of voters increased by 4 lakh in just around three months.
What activities were conducted under SVEEP to sensitise voters?
A large number of advertisement campaigns in newspapers, TV and radio were launched along with election-related songs, skits and appointing of election ambassadors for every voter category. Marathons, signature campaigns, pledge to vote campaigns were also conducted. Various social workers, NGOs, educational institutes were involved in registering eligible citizens as voters.
What was the SVEEP’s objective when it was first launched?
The SVEEP was launched in 2009 on an experimental basis after the general elections were held in May 2009 by the EC with an objective to mitigate the gap between registration of voters and turnout at polling booths.
How has the voter turnout changed in Punjab since 2009?
In 2009, before SVEEP was launched for the general election, Punjab recorded 70% voter turnout. All subsequent elections were held under SVEEP in which Punjab witnessed 78.64% polling in 2012 Vidhan Sabha election, 70.89% polling in 2014 Lok Sabha election and 77.37 % in 2017 Punjab Vidhan Sabha election.
What are election officials attributing the low turnout to?
They say people were confused as there was anti-incumbency against both the state and central governments. Moreover, a large chunk of voters was not interested and stayed away from polling. In the 2017 Assembly election, people were against the SAD-BJP and a huge turnout of more than 77% was recorded here. When there is clear anti-incumbency against any government, polling remains high, said a candidate, adding that this time there was no strong third front.
Election officials said they had left no stone unturned to sensitise voters to use their rights to vote and their efforts are clear from increasing number of voters. They feel that due to the “peculiar” political situation this time, people stayed away. Political leaders also said that most voters were not satisfied with the candidates of traditional parties — SAD-BJP and Congress — at several LS constituencies across Punjab.
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