Bengaluru: Low turnout due to inflated voters' list

Bengaluru: Low turnout due to inflated voters' list

Despite awareness programmes by citizen groups, residents welfare associations and the Election Commission, the city recorded dismal voting figures of 54.29%, much below the state average of 72%.

But citizen activists and analysts point to the voter list as the source of the problem, and not just the voters themselves.

Voter list analyst and retired naval officer P G Bhat, who has studied several elections, admitted to voter apathy among city dwellers, but he also said that the problem lies in the inflated voters' list.

"There are many reasons for the low voter turnout in the city, but the voters' list is riddled with bogus entries," Bhat said.

"The city is supposed to have 91 lakh voters. But incorrect entries, a large number of duplicate entries, double entries, non-removal of the names of deceased voters and those who moved out of a locality, besides illegal entries also exaggerate the voters' statistics," he said.

Bhat said a reliable technology should be in place to identify issues in the list. "There's nothing called fewer voter turnout unless the Election Commission's calculation is incorrect. The EC must get the figure right after making corrections," Bhat said.

The group Citizens for Bengaluru (CFB), which conducted numerous awareness programmes, also believed that the problem is with the voters' list. "There's certainly voter apathy since they don't connect with politics. What people want and politicians want are two different things," CfB co-founder Srinivas Alavilli said.

"We along with other citizen groups have done all kinds of campaigns like citizen manifestos and voter registration drives. But many of us believe that the voters' baseline (figures) are wrong and the list is inflated," Alavilli added.

Acknowledging the low turnout, the Election Commission has said it would take steps to clean up the voters' list.

District Electoral Officer and BBMP Commissioner M Maheshwar Rao assured DH that the panel did its best to enroll and lure more voters to the polling booths.

"Percentage-wise, I think the electoral list is fair, given our approach to get every eligible voter enrolled. We have also taken action to remove those who are ineligible," Rao added.

He said it takes a lot more effort in the cities to drag the voters to the polling booths than in rural areas.