Need to transcend voter apathy in cities - Hindustan Times
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Need to transcend voter apathy in cities

ByHT Editorial
May 20, 2024 08:42 PM IST

Various reasons have been offered to explain the urban voter’s apathy to cast his/her vote — from weather to dissatisfaction with the candidates.

Early trends from the polling in Mumbai constituencies on Monday suggest that the turnout is unlikely to match the 2019 peak of 55.4%. This is in line with the worldwide trend of apathy among urban voters towards elections. Mumbai, of course, is not an exception in India: Metros such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune tend to record turnouts lower than in their rural neighbourhood. Take Bengaluru. The city recorded a turnout of 54.1% this election when polling across Karnataka concluded with a turnout of 69.9%. Similarly, Maharashtra recorded a 62.9% turnout in the first four phases, while Mumbai is struggling to match the 2019 figure.

Thane, India - May ,20, 2024: Citizens are seen at the voting booth on Thane Ghodbunder Road Hiranandani Estate to vote ,in Thane, in Mumbai, India, on, Monday, May,20, 2024. ( Praful Gangurde / HT Photo ) PREMIUM
Thane, India - May ,20, 2024: Citizens are seen at the voting booth on Thane Ghodbunder Road Hiranandani Estate to vote ,in Thane, in Mumbai, India, on, Monday, May,20, 2024. ( Praful Gangurde / HT Photo )

Various reasons have been offered to explain the urban voter’s apathy to cast his/her vote — from weather to dissatisfaction with the candidates. In Mumbai’s case, intense campaigning by candidates in what is a deeply polarised election, and the extra efforts by the administration to raise voter participation, likely came up against these, and also the prospect of an extended weekend (the elections were on Monday, which was declared a holiday). While there are structural reasons such as flaws in electoral rolls that contribute to the low turnouts, the fact is urban centres contain atomised societies, in which individuals do not necessarily relate to the larger social dynamic, including the democratic process. And if rural voters weaponise elections to censure the state, urban voters do not necessarily view participation in elections from a rights perspective.

Delhi, which votes on Saturday, has a relatively better record (60.6% in 2019) – but the challenge this time is posed by the fact that May 23 is a public holiday, making for a 4-day weekend for those willing to take Friday off. Will Delhi do better than its peers?

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