Karnataka Election: Where have all the voters gone?

Bengaluru: Yet again, voters in the city failed to turn up in large numbers and cast their franchise. The voter turnout stood at a poor 54 per cent as compared to the state-wide figures of over 70 percent. It meant that various intensive campaigns taken up by the Election Commission to increase the voter share has gone in vain. In the previous Assembly election, the city witnessed a voter turnout of 57.5 per cent, which too was low.

The Election Commission, besides organising rallies and awareness programmes to increase the voter turnout, had taken up various measures like Pink Booths for the benefit of women voters that are exclusively supervised by women personnel, an SMS initiative to locate names and polling stations, route application and online website service.

Citizens are often seen complaining about the city’s poor infrastructure and shortcomings in the executed projects on social media sites, like the Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, they failed to turn up at the polling booths to cast their votes and to make a difference.

Experts said that holding elections during the weekend was the villain for the poor voter turnout. Since the elections were announced about a month ago, it was easy for nearly half of Bengalureans who are eligible to vote to plan their weekend getaways.

Even before the election date was announced, all political parties had petitioned the Election Commission to avoid fixing the poll date on the weekends and to have it on a weekday. But EC went against the advice and voters failed to turn up at polling stations as expected.

Missing voter names was the common complaint heard across all the 222 assembly constituencies, including the 26 in the city. Polls were not held for the Jayanagar constituency due to the death of BJP candidate B.N. Vijay Kumar and Rajarajeshwarinagar constituency due to the EPIC scam involving Congress MLA Munirathna. At Mahadevapura, over 400 people were deprived of their voting rights, though they bona fide EPICs.   

Interestingly, at the Basavanagudi constituency, a voter’s name was found twice on the electoral roll. The voter had to clarify to the polling station staff that one was valid which was matching with the EPIC number, while the other was not. The voter even insisted that it be scrapped. However, the staff said they did not have the powers to do it. 

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