Following national trends, the percentage of voting in Bangalore is likely to rise, but the increase may not be dramatic, an expert is predicting.
In 2009, 58 per cent of those on the list in Bangalore exercised their franchise. That may go up to 60 or 61 per cent, according to P G Bhat, co-ordinator of Smart Vote, an NGO that studies voting trends.
Bhat, who has been in the forefront of analysing electoral rolls across the country, expects the voting percentage to increase by 2-3 per cent in Bangalore, and not more.
“The enthusiasm is palpable among new voters. We are still getting calls from people who would like to register and people whose names have been deleted from the lists,” he told City Express.
He believes voting calculations are inaccurate as many documents have not been updated. Bangalore, with 28 assembly constituencies, has 17 lakh records that need to be checked for veracity.
Bhat says the names of nearly one lakh voters in Bangalore alone are repeated. The repetition is so high that some names appear two to ten times.
The Election Commission has erred, with no proper evaluation, and software problems have has led to thousands of names being deleted, he said.
Last year, by his reckoning, 18,000 names were deleted in the city alone, leading to chaos at many polling booths. “I would like to add that the quality of electoral rolls in Karnataka is the worst among the 13 states I have studied. Most of the mistakes are easy to correct but the EC refuses to take any help,” Bhat says.
Sunil Kumar Jain, founder of an NGO called Astha, facilitates voter registration in Bangalore. He says, “I don’t think people will re-schedule their holidays. I personally know a few families, each of them having 3-4 votes, who have already left. With most young voters glued to their PCs, tablets and cellphones, they have missed the voter awareness campaigns on the television channels,” he opines.
On the other hand, Vasanthkumar Mysoremath, convener, Voters’ Awareness Movement, lauds the efforts of the Election Commission to widen voter awareness. “Awareness among young voters is high. The string of holidays will affect voting, but some may vote in their native places. In fact, the non-voting population in Bangalore is sizable, and many in this segment hail from Bihar, Gujarat, UP, and the North-Eastern states.”
With nearly six lakh voters added since 2013, and two lakh in the age group of 18-19 years, pollsters are hoping for better voting percentages.
The Election Commission, NGOs, civic organizations and political parties have carried out big campaigns this time to promote voting.
There are 78.4 lakh registered voters in Bangalore district alone, with 5.8 lakh voters added till March 26 this year. Bhat suspects about 22.3 lakh names are repeats or duds.
With Bangalore witnessing 50-58 per cent voting in the last three elections, many individuals, institutions and parties have got together to motivate more people to go vote.
Anil Kumar Jha, Karnataka’s chief electoral officer, says the percentage of voting will definitely increase this time. “We have appealed to voters working in various sectors to vote and then enjoy their holidays. We have also requested private companies to facilitate voting and give them their employees time off for 2-3 hours,” he said.
‘Let others vote’
V S Vishnu, working in Bangalore for the past four years, has never voted or made any effort to get a voter ID card. “I have been flitting from city to city and with parents settled in Kerala, I did not bother to sign up,” he says.
Ramya G Naik, employed in Bangalore, is registered to vote in Bhadravati. “I work in a construction company and with just one day’s break, I cannot go home and come back,” she says.
Lavanya, in Bangalore for the last three years and working in a realtor’s office, is not voting either. “My vote is in Tiptur and in this heat, I can’t motivate myself to travel so far just to cast my vote.”
While on the one hand, first time voters are adding to the election excitement, on the other, a huge section is indifferent to the process, making the available readings in Bangalore iffy.
Vote a pity!
P G Bhat, poll trends expert, says about 15 lakh of the 78.4 lakh names on the lists are inaccurate. They could be repeats, or names of people who have migrated out or died.