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April 27, 2024

Bengaluru’s Voter Apathy: Nearly Half of Eligible Voters Skip Lok Sabha Elections

Bengaluru, Karnataka: In a disappointing display of civic responsibility, nearly half of Bengaluru’s eligible voters chose to abstain from casting their ballots during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Despite the Election Commission’s efforts to encourage participation, voter apathy persisted, particularly in the urban constituencies of Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, and Bangalore South.

Across Karnataka’s 14 constituencies, the overall voter turnout stood at 69.23 percent. However, Bengaluru’s urban hub witnessed a significant decline in participation, with only approximately 52.81 percent, 54.42 percent, and 53.15 percent of eligible voters turning out in Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, and Bangalore South, respectively. This contrasts starkly with neighboring Bangalore Rural, which saw a more promising turnout of approximately 67.29 percent. Mandya and Kolar also boasted robust participation rates of 81.48 percent and 78.07 percent, respectively.

Comparing the recent statistics with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections reveals a concerning trend. In 2019, Bengaluru Central, Bengaluru North, and Bengaluru South recorded turnouts of 54.32 percent, 54.76 percent, and 53.70 percent, respectively.

The perplexity surrounding the decline in urban voter participation is acknowledged even by senior Election Commission officials. While some speculate that the rising summer heat may have deterred voters, there is no definitive explanation for the phenomenon.

Despite the setback, the Election Commission in Karnataka made concerted efforts to enhance voter engagement in urban constituencies. Initiatives included promoting voter-centric apps and introducing QR codes on voter slips for easy identification of polling booths.

Additional measures such as the Voter Helpline, ‘Know Your Candidate’ campaign, and real-time updates on queue lengths and parking facilities at polling booths, particularly in Bengaluru, were implemented. The EC also upgraded facilities at polling stations in urban areas based on insights gathered from a survey conducted after the 2023 Karnataka Assembly election and previous Lok Sabha elections.

However, the challenge of voter apathy persists, indicating a deeper issue that goes beyond mere convenience or access to polling stations. It underscores the need for sustained efforts to instill a sense of civic duty and political awareness among Bengaluru’s electorate.

Addressing this issue requires not only short-term solutions like improved facilities and voter education campaigns but also long-term strategies to cultivate a culture of active citizenship and democratic participation. Only through continuous engagement and education can Bengaluru’s voters be encouraged to exercise their democratic right fully.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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