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Teens Not Keen On Voting In Upcoming Polls

| Updated: April 5, 2024 13:33

EC data reveals that only 38% of the projected 4.9 crore new voters are registered

In the world’s largest democracy, where the role of the youth is celebrated, this is indeed sad news. India’s teenagers, aged 18 and 19, are eligible to vote. Yet, they seem disinterested in exercising their franchise as less than 40% are registered. 

Election Commission (EC) data reveals that only 38% of the projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group are registered. Around 1.8 crore new voters are on the electoral rolls. 

Telangana, India’s newest state, tops the list with over 8 lakh (66.7%) in the 18-19 age group enrolling. J&K and Himachal are two other states/UTs that have managed to enrol around 60%. 

States like Bihar, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have low enrolment rates. Bihar, with the country’s youngest population, is at the bottom with just 9.3 lakh (17%) enrolled from a potential 54 lakh. Delhi, with only 1.5 lakh out of 7.2 lakh, is slightly better with 21%. UP at 23% and Maharashtra at 27% are among the states at the bottom of the list. 

Unfortunate figures

It is indeed strange, and unfortunate, that the youth, who have the highest stake in the future of the country, are showing such little interest in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Also, with so much talk of the youth being the key to the country’s future, these figures are unfortunate to say the least.    

The number of teen voters may go up with the EC, political parties and civil society groups  doing their bit to see that each eligible voter registers.

The data also indicates that in three of the five largest states in terms of Lok Sabha seats –  UP, Maharashtra and Bihar – a quarter or less of teens are registered to vote. In the other two,  Bengal and Tamil Nadu, less than half have entered the electoral rolls. These are projections as Census 2021 is yet to take place.  

Former election commissioner S Y Quraishi, who was instrumental in starting a voter awareness and education department in the EC in 2010, said he was pained to learn about such low enrolment.

Multiple causes  

Those working in the field to register young voters say two factors could be responsible for these low numbers – apathy among the youth and challenges in processing paperwork. 

Experts say that since the leadership of major parties is made up of seniors, young people may not be able to relate to them. Two, for migrant students and white collar workers, there is not enough motivation to go through the hassles of paperwork. For a blue collar worker, it may be even tougher to forgo a day’s wages to get paperwork done. 

Lack of information on the political process and governance issues is another issue. The basics of elections and politics are not taught in schools as part of the syllabus, except under CBSE, say some experts. 

There have been efforts by EC to encourage eligible voters to register including enrolment camps, using celebrities, and a 30-hour offline hackathon last year to address apathy. On their part, parties are giving more tickets to younger candidates.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Forced To Be In Politics: Kangana Ranaut

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