Why poor voting percentage in Bangalore?

According to the Press, the voting percentage in the Lok Sabha elections in Bangalore for 2014 increased to 54% compared to 48% percent in the Assembly elections last year.  In comparison, there was 65% percentage of polling in the whole State of Karnataka, compared to 72% last year.

This is despite so much campaigns - both from political parties, as well as various social organizations and media.  All forms of media were involved - advertisements, SMS, door-to-door, hoardings, meetings - there was no lack of information.

Incidentally, I was surprised to find a long queue when we went to our polling booth at noon.  (In previous elections, I had never stood in queue - perhaps I had gone in a different time)  We stood about 40 minutes for our turn.  This gave me enough time to make a few observations.  There were 8 polling stations in the school where we went.  Only two of them had queues - the remaining 6 were empty, with one or two coming in every two minutes.  If only there was a single list for the school, people could have been routed to any of the 8 booths based on the queue size.  It looked like precious waste of everyone's time to me!  And then imagine when the Mutt head (who owns the school) comes in a chauffer-driven Innova and jumps all queues, while the rest of us bear the summer heat!

Anyway, why the low turnout?  Here are a few reasons that I can think of:
  • 4 day holiday:  Bangalore is a city of migrants - a lot of them from neighbouring South Indian states.  With Thur, 17 Apr being a holiday for election and Fri, 18 Apr being a holiday for Good Friday, it was a good 4 day weekend for many.  
  • Apathy: Whatever said and done, ultimately we are selfish and self-centered.  
"How will my vote matter?",  "What is in it for me?", "I don't like politics", "Everyone is bad"
There is enough reason for people not to vote.
  • Name not in voter list:  There are many who have not registered for inclusion in the voter list. (They fall into apathy category) But among those who have registered, there are many again, whose name have not got incorporated.  Then there are those, whose names were present in previous lists, but have disappeared in the current one. 
  • Multiple occurrence of name in voter list:  My name figures thrice in voter list - twice in the same constituency.  I don't think I am an exception.  Many of us have moved homes in the last few years and are likely to have requested for change in their voter details. 
  • Non-updation of voter list:  How does the voter list get updated when someone migrates or dies?  This does not happen automatically. How do we know, how accurate the voter list is, especially in Bangalore?
  • Voter not in station: Excluding those who intentionally left for 4 day weekend, there are many others who genuinely wanted to vote, but are out of station for various reasons - being abroad, sick, travelling on business and so on. 

The voter  data is arguably the most pathetic citizen data that I can think of.  I have written about voter id card and elections many times (the modern epic, the moder epic - part 2, election day bangalore, voting in bbmp elections, yet another election and the latest voting time again)

In short the voter data is incomplete, inaccurate and incorrect.  Before we bemoan the poor voting percentage, a review of this list is only fair.

Update: 23 Apr 2014.

A friend of mine had this comment in facebook - an excellent write-up which captures with statistics what I had only theorized above.


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