Saturday, May 02, 2009

Absent Indian voter?

Based on abysmal polling in Mumbai and Bangalore, Acorn points at the "Absent Indian Voter" and wants a deeper look into it.

I will give my own example and extrapolate. Many years after I have moved out from my earlier constituency in Maharashtra, my name still appears on the list in that constituency. And as my dad days, the names of a few people who are long since dead from our apartment complex also figure in it. Perhaps, the voters list is not as updated as it is made out to be. So, in a place like Bangalore which has a lot of people staying abroad on longish stints, it is possible that a big chunk of "voters" are not voters at all. They may be dead, invalid or may have moved out to other places (and registered there too like in my case) either themselves or with their sons/daughters etc.

Second, there are new voters who register each time. It is "unlikely" (assumption) that many of those who go through the pain of registering will not vote. Some of them may, but in general those who register will vote is a reasonable assumption.

Third, there are those who have never registered in their lives (yes, the hoity toity types) - but they don't figure in the list, so they are out of this calculation anyway.

Fourth, summer vacations and long weekends are times when people take time out to go to their native places or to just chill - this is unlikely to change. This works well in case of people who are not actually registered in their new constituencies, but against those who have registered. Such people are unlikely to make changes to their vacation plans - why or why not, I don't know. Long weekends are a curse. Move the voting day to a Wednesday - that means 2 days leave will need to be taken. Or have elections in winter or when the kids are likely to be in school.

Is there a break up of voting percentage across genders? My gut feel says that there could be a key there - it is possible that men overall have a greater voting percentage than women.

None of this means that we must sit pretty with these voting percentages. It means that we need keep up the momentum of getting more people to vote, especially urban well off voters - because, a democracy is a democracy (cargo cult or otherwise to use Atanus pet phrase) and it is this class which will push for better politicians. Politicians who are professionals rather than history sheeters. Participation, not abstention is the key as Rajesh Jain says.

1 comment:

Savitha Rao said...

The low voter turnout is a pity . Inexplicable in Bombay even after accounting for anomalies in voter lists , people taking off on holidays. Especially after 26/11 one would have expected residents of Bombay to at least vote .

The idea of planning the election day more prudently will certainly help . Making the voter registration process more easy ( in Bombay one needed determination to get on the voter list. The process and the officials were not user friendly ).
The uninspiring list of candidates added to the apathy.

None of this however is reason good enough for an urban , educated voter not to vote .