Source: 
The Economic Times
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/lok-sabha/india/why-young-voters-are-less-interested-in-elections/articleshow/109066465.cms?from=mdr
Author: 
ET Online
Date: 
05.04.2024
City: 

As per data, India's youngest voters, aged 18 and 19, are showing dismally low interest in the upcoming elections, with less than 40% registering nationwide. Bihar, Delhi, and UP witness particularly low enrollment rates. Despite efforts by the Election Commission and NGOs, logistical hurdles and a perceived lack of representation hinder youth participation. Sustained educational initiatives are crucial to address voter apathy among the youth.

In the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, it appears that the country's youngest eligible voters are displaying a concerning lack of interest in participating in the democratic process. Recent data reveals that fewer than 40% of 18- and 19-year-olds across the nation have registered to vote, with certain states like Bihar, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh recording enrollment rates of less than a quarter, a TOI report stated.

According to statistics released by the Election Commission after the announcement of poll dates, only a little over 1.8 crore new voters in the 18- and 19-year-old bracket have been included in the electoral rolls. This figure is considerably lower than the projected population size of this demographic, which stands at just under 4.9 crore. In essence, merely 38% of these first-time voters have successfully registered. Although there is a possibility of this number increasing as various stakeholders intensify their efforts to encourage registration, the current scenario raises questions about the extent to which such initiatives can effectively address the issue.

Telangana emerges as a notable exception, with over 8 lakh 18- and 19-year-olds enrolled to vote, constituting approximately 66.7% of its projected population within this age group. Conversely, Bihar, known for its youthful population, reports dismal figures, with only 9.3 lakh enrolled out of a potential 54 lakh (17%). Similar trends are observed in other states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra, where enrollment rates remain notably low.

The significance of this trend is undeniable, considering the emphasis placed by political parties on the youth as key constituents in shaping India's future and electoral outcomes. However, the reality seems to diverge from this narrative, raising concerns about the engagement of young citizens in the democratic process.

Moreover, logistical hurdles such as paperwork processing and the opportunity costs associated with voting further deter participation, particularly among migrant workers and students. Rajiv Kumar from the NGO Action for Accountable Governance emphasized the need for sustained enrollment efforts throughout the year, particularly targeting transient populations.

Chaitanya Prabhu from Mark My Presence underscored the importance of political education, noting that the absence of formal instruction on governance and electoral processes in schools contributes to disinterest among young people. However, initiatives like those undertaken by Mark My Presence, which focus on raising awareness and facilitating voter enrollment, have demonstrated promising results, enrolling thousands of new voters.

Efforts by the Election Commission and political parties to promote voter registration, including awareness campaigns and the inclusion of younger candidates, have been ongoing. Nevertheless, addressing the underlying causes of voter apathy among India's youngest demographic remains a significant challenge that necessitates sustained engagement and educational initiatives.

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