Spending on single voter up by 20 times in 6 decades

 For a single voter in the first general elections, the Central government spent 60 paisa and it grew by 20 times to Rs 12 in the 2009 polls.

The 2014 polls could witness a further rise in government expenditure in conducting the elections due to various voter-friendly initiatives like awareness campaigns, distribution of voter slip ahead of election date and use of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail  for the first time.

“These efforts are focussed at strengthening the very structure and values of democracy. Keeping devaluation of money owing to inflation into account, the rise in cost could be attributed to increased level of democratic activities,” the Election Commission said.

The entire expenditure on actual conduct of Lok Sabha elections is borne by the Centre. However, expenditure towards law and order maintenance is handled by the respective state governments.

While there were 17.32 crore voters in 1952, the number of voters in the last election was 71.69 crore. This time, there will be more than 82 crore voters. The statistics on elections released by Election Commission show that government’s expenditure on a voter has gone up manifold from the first Lok Sabha election to the 15th in 2009. In absolute terms, the first general elections cost Rs 10.45 crore for the Centre while it spent Rs 846.67 crore in the last polls. The 2004 elections was the costlier edition of the electoral exercise, which is one of the mammoth exercises in the world at Rs 1,114 crore. In the election in which Congress-led UPA emerged a surprise winner ousting BJP-led NDA, the government spent Rs 17 per voter. Significantly, there was increase in the election cost by 17.53 per cent vis-à-vis 1999 elections even though there was reduction in number of polling stations by 11.26 per cent. According to the Election Commission figures, the cost per voter was less than one rupee until 1977.

Interestingly after the first elections, the next four elections incurred less expense. In 1977 elections, 70 paisa was incurred on a voter.

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