2024 LS polls: ECI identifies 266 low-turnout constituencies to improve voter engagement

Eleven states and Union territories had a voter turnout lower than the national average of 67.40 percent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls; CEC Kumar says the ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar with Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu during a conference on the issue of 'Low Voter Turnout' ahead of Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi, Friday, April 5, 2024.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar with Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu during a conference on the issue of 'Low Voter Turnout' ahead of Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi, Friday, April 5, 2024. Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday said it has identified 266 parliamentary constituencies, including 215 in rural areas, with low turnout in previous polls and it has asked the officials to make targeted interventions to improve voters’ participation in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The issue was discussed here at a meeting of the full Election Commission with municipal commissioners from major cities and select district election officers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where they were asked to work on enhancing voter engagement and participation in identified urban and rural Lok Sabha seats, officials said.

During deliberation at the meeting titled ‘Conference on Low Voter Turnout', the ECI identified 266 parliamentary constituencies—215 rural and 51 urban—with low voter turnout, the officials said.

Eleven states and Union territories—Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, and Jharkhand—had a voter turnout lower than the national average of 67.40 percent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In an official statement, CEC Rajiv Kumar stressed that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not work and that different strategies needed to be worked out for different areas and segments.

Kumar emphasised a three-pronged strategy of providing facilitation at polling stations, such as queue management, sheltered parking in congested areas, targeted outreach and communication, and the involvement of critical stakeholders, including RWAs, local icons and youth influencers, to persuade people to come to polling stations on voting day.

The CEC also told the participating officials to prepare a booth-wise action plan for enhanced participation and behaviour change and asked them to prepare different strategies for urban and rural areas and plan interventions accordingly for different target audiences.

The ECI said that deliberations were mostly centred on critical issues such as optimising queue management at polling stations and facilitating voting in high-rise buildings. Urban-specific hurdles to increased voter turnout were identified and targeted city-specific interventions were planned, it added.

The Commission recalled that nearly 29.7 crore eligible voters did not vote in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, “underscoring the scale of the problem, which calls for proactive measures," as last time out of the 50 seats with the lowest voter turnout, 17 were in metropolitans or major cities.

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