New Delhi: In response to a Right to Information request filed by the Indian Express, Election Commission has provided data revealing that of a total millennial voters in the country – those in the 18-19 age bracket (about 4.85 crore of the population) –only 29.49% have enrolled to cast their votes.
According to a report in the Indian Express, while the country’s total voting population stands at 137.63 crore, the eligibility percentage to vote equals 63.75% (87.75 crore people).
A fair number of states and union territories across the country show abysmally low enrollment rates in this particular age-group. For instance, Haryana records 3.26%, Bihar 26.63%, Delhi 16.23%, Andhra Pradesh 20.2%, Gujarat 21.55% and Madhya Pradesh at 21.19%. Even high literacy states like Kerala and Himachal Pradesh hardly fare any better, recording 15.18% and 24.47% respectively. In the north east, Arunachal Pradesh stands at 27.12% and Manipur at 27.71%. Comparable to Odisha at 28.96% and Maharashtra at 29.5%, Jammu and Kashmir at 28.49%, has a higher enrollment rate than Delhi, Bihar and Haryana,
Analysts believe that getting support of this large age-group of voters is essential for political parties to win elections. With an eye on the 2019 general elections, the BJP has geared up to connect with millennial voters, using ‘connect’ programmes and disseminating information to make young voters aware about NDA’s welfare schemes.
With Karnataka, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan readying to go to polls over the course of this year, 2018 is a crucial year for political parties to start building their voter base.
Though Rajasthan fares better than Karnataka, the state’s overall enrollment is still only 46.58% among first-time registered voters. Madhya Pradesh has an even lower 21.19% enrollment.
Going to polls May 12, Karnataka has only 33.67% of first-time voters enrolled. In Bengaluru, both the BJP and the Congress are busy organising campaigns, trying to draw the attention of young voters. Congress has devised ‘Nanna Karnataka’ to facilitate interaction with the youth; while the BJP has come up with ‘New Bengaluru for New India’, asking students to come up with creative solutions to Bengaluru’s problems.
The BJP’s objective is to influence these young voters by using social media and the various platforms the youth regularly access. The party’s IT cell is expected to play a crucial role in party’s outreach initiative. Another strategy called ‘Samarasta Bhoj’ aims to draw the attention of Dalits around the time of Ambedkar Jayanti, on April 14.
The Election Commission has been attempting to incorporate millennial voters, urging them to cast votes. The Commission’s 2017 theme for ‘Empowering Young and Future Voters’, and under the broader umbrella of their Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation programme, the Commission has targeted initiatives such as Interactive School Engagement Project, National Elections Quiz, and Electoral Literacy Clubs. The objective is to promote community-engagement and foster awareness about the significance of voting.