Why were 30 Crore Voters Missing in the 2019 Elections?

27 Mar 2024  Read 1363 Views

India has many voters, approximately 94 crores this year, but many didn't vote in the last Lok Sabha Election of 2019. This made the Election Commission of India (ECI) work harder to get them to vote. ECI wants to increase the voter turnout to 75% this year. They noticed that many urban people, young voters, and migrants didn't vote last time, about 30 crore of them. 

To attract these groups of people, the ECI is doing many things, such as conducting awareness campaigns, introducing remote voting systems, etc.

Let's understand why voting is super important, how the government's SVEEP Program helps more people vote, and how registering to vote has gone from paper to online.

Why is Voting Important in India?

Voting is not just a privilege but a civic duty guaranteed by the Constitution of India. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 67.11% of eligible voters cast their votes, which was the highest turnout ever in India. Here are some key reasons why voting is important:

  1. Voice in Governance: Voting gives people the power to choose their leaders, who make decisions on their behalf about laws, policies, and programs.
  2. Representation: It ensures that diverse voices and perspectives are represented in the government, reflecting the needs and interests of different communities.
  3. Agent of Change: Voting can bring about real change. If dissatisfied with the current situation, voting allows support for a better government. If people don't vote, the same leaders stay in power, leading to potential problems.
  4. Every Vote Matters: Every single vote counts. Even though it may seem like just one vote among many, each one adds up and can make a big impact. It's up to each of us to take responsibility and vote.
  5. NOTA Option: The Indian government has given the option to vote for "None of the Above" (NOTA) if not satisfied with any candidate. This vote is important as it indicates a desire for better choices. If most votes are for NOTA, the candidate with the next highest votes gets elected.

Why Voters Don't Participate in Elections?

There are many reasons why a voter doesn't participate in elections: internal migration (domestic migrants), incomplete voter registration, lack of awareness, certain groups of people, such as prisoners or individuals declared mentally unsound, are disqualified from voting, leading to a reduction in the total number of eligible voters.

This major issue needs fixing to increase voter turnout and have more people participate in elections.

Initiatives to Increase Participation in Election

Here are some initiatives by the Election Commission of India aimed at increasing participation in the election process:-

A. Voter Helpline App: 

The Voter Helpline App, developed by the ECI, is a user-friendly mobile application that provides information about voter registration, polling stations, electoral rolls, and election-related updates.

Click to know everything about the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). 

B. SVEEP Program: 

Launched in 2009, the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) program by the Election Commission of India (ECI) aimed to enhance voter education, awareness, and participation through various outreach initiatives. 

It works through various strategies and activities to engage citizens and encourage them to exercise their voting rights. Some of them are listed below:-

  • Awareness Campaigns: The ECI, through the SVEEP Program, regularly conducts voter awareness campaigns like "Every Vote Counts", "Your Vote, Your Voice", and "Pledge to Vote
  • Engagement Activities: This program uses the popularity of celebrities and influencers to spread information about voting. As part of this effort, ECI has made a short film called "My Vote, My Duty" (available on YouTube).
  • Educational Programs: SVEEP organises educational programs in schools, colleges, and communities to educate citizens, especially first-time voters and marginalised groups, about the importance of voting, the electoral process, and how to register as voters.
  • Getting famous people involved: The ECI chose Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar and actor Rajkumar Rao as 'National Icons' to connect with citizens, especially young people. 
  • Voter Registration Drives: This program collaborates with government agencies and NGOs to conduct voter registration drives to reach out to eligible unregistered voters; for instance, volunteers may set up registration booths in public places or go door-to-door to facilitate registrations.
  • Use of Social Media: Hashtags like #MeraPhelaVoteDeshkeLiye have been launched to motivate new voters to join the voting process.

C. From Offline to Online Voter Registration:

Previously, people had to go to the nearest Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) to register as voters, which was a bit tough, with long lines and lots of paperwork. 

But now, thanks to technology, registering to vote online has made things much easier. Now, citizens can sign up to vote from anywhere using the official voters.eci.gov.in website. This change has made the process faster, clearer, and open to more people.

D. Introduction of Remote Electronic Voting Machine (R-EVM):

The R-EVM helps registered domestic migrant voters by letting them vote from wherever they are, even if they've moved away from their home constituencies.

The RVM can handle 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth, making it easy for voters from different constituencies to vote at the same location. 

Voting Process: 

a. Voters scan their constituency cards with the Presiding Officer at the remote polling station. 

b. RVM will display the constituency and candidate list. 

c. RVMs offer a secure voting experience similar to EVMs, using electronic displays for candidate selection. 

d. Voters can cast votes for their preferred candidate.

e. Votes are counted and stored for each candidate in the constituency.

Read more about the Panel Recommendation on One Nation, One Election.

E. Home Voting for Elderly Citizens: 

Introducing home voting options for citizens aged 85 and above enables them to participate in elections without the physical challenges of travelling to polling stations. 

This initiative promotes inclusivity and ensures that every eligible voter can exercise their right to vote.

Conclusion

The 2019 Elections showed that there is a need to do more to help people register to vote, understand how to vote, and make voting easier. Programs like SVEEP and online registration are steps towards ensuring everyone can vote and be part of our democracy. It's important to tackle these challenges so that every eligible person can vote and contribute to shaping the nation's democratic processes.

About the Author: Anirudh Nikhare | 29 Post(s)

Anirudh did his Bachelor's in Law and has practical experience in IPR, Contracts, and Corporate. He is your go-to legal content writer turning head-scratching legal topics into easy-to-understand gems of wisdom. Through his blog, he aims to empower readers with knowledge, making legal concepts digestible and applicable to everyday life.

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