The story of colourful and chaotic elections in India, the world’s largest democracy, can offer many surprising vignettes. If we go back in history of general elections in India then we are able to understand the phenomena of voter’s turnout.
A record number of 1,033 candidates contested the Modaurichi assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu in 1996, and the ballot paper was in the form of a booklet?
Or that the lowest voter turnout in a polling station is just three, reported from Bomdila district in Arunachal Pradesh?
Or that in Gujarat’s Gir Forest, officials set up a voting booth, manned by five people for just one voter, Mahant Bharatdas?
General Elections 2014 for the constitution of 16th Lok Sabha recorded a poll percentage of 66.38%, an all time high. The last highest record of poll percentage was 64.01% seen in 1984 general elections when Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi rode a sympathy wave to come to power after the assassination of his mother and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In 2014 general election the states with the highest turnout in this election were Lakshadweep (86%), Manipur (80.14%), Nagaland (88.57%), Tripura (83.32%) and West Bengal (81.77%). The ongoing general elections in India, set to become the biggest election in world history, are nothing short of a marvel too, not just in terms of sheer size and numbers but also when one considers weird facts and practices associated with the grandest spectacle on earth.
A whopping number of 814 million voters are eligible to vote in the nine-phase, five-week-long polling process (April 7 – May 12), 103 million more than the population of the whole of Europe.
There are over 100 million first-time voters eligible to vote in these elections, more than the size of populations of UK (63.7 million) and Canada (34.8 million) put together. Of these, 23 million first time voters are from Uttar Pradesh alone, just 3 million less than the population of the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) put together.
To make this possible, the Election Commission of India has made arrangements for nearly a million polling stations, an increase of nearly 12 percent since last general elections in 2009. So many polling stations were necessary, considering the Election Commission’s decision that no one should have to travel more than two kilo meters to reach a polling station, and that no polling station should have to manage more than 1,500 voters.
For the first time voters across the country would be able to exercise the “none of the above” option for candidates in the 2014 polls. India is the 12th country to implement NOTA.
Over 28,000 transgender community members have registered in the electoral poll so far and will be eligible to vote in this election. Election Commission has introduced this category in 2012. India’s transgender community is being recognized for the first time and can vote under “third sex” or “others,” a category that didn’t exist in the previous elections.
Around 12,000 non-resident Indians registered as voters will be able to exercise their voting rights for the very first time. Kerala has the highest number of NRI voters. A citizen-reporting tool called Election Watch Reporter, an Android-based application developed by the National Election Watch, is being deployed by the Election Commission in the polls to keep a check on malpractices such as bribing of voters in the form of liquor distribution, cash and also excessive spending by candidates.
The voter turnouts during the most recent elections in India at the state level were among the highest ever seen. At the national level too, the trend is that turnout is on the rise. The main reason for this is that people see their role in politics as very significant and it often the poorest who are the most enthusiastic voters. While we think elections are about politicians, political parties, and results, voters attach great meaning to their own role in elections. Indians are very aware that without their showing up at polls on election day, there would be no elections or democracy. There’s a complex understanding among Indians of their right to vote—they see it as their duty and right as citizens.
On the basis of above given reason we can say that now we are heading towards a better democracy…..