How the Election Commission is planning to woo voters after low turnout in Phase 1

The panel said it has left no stone unturned to bring voters to polling booths

First time voters take selfie after casting votes First time voters take selfie after casting votes for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Nagpur on April 19, 2024 | PTI

With the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls on April 19 recording a low turnout, the Election Commission of India is looking at ways to bring in more voters to polling booths in the remaining rounds.

Of the more than 16 crore voters across 102 constituencies going to polls in the first phase, only around 66 per cent cast their ballots. This was a decline from the 69.2 per cent turnout for the same 102 seats in 2019.

The turnout in Rajasthan and Uttarakhand tanked around 6 per cent. Tamil Nadu saw its turnout figures plunge around 3 per cent from 72.44 per cent to 69.46 per cent.

The poll panel said it has left no stone unturned to woo voters, including roping in BCCI to raise awareness among IPL fans and appointing celebrities as ambassadors. The commission is also gearing up to boost its existing Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation Programme (SVEEP) to mobilise voters.

One of the reasons cited for low turnout is the intense heatwave in many parts of the country. Odisha, which announced summer vacation for school students on April 25 due to intense heatwave conditions, will go to polls in May and June. Other regions affected by the heatwave include Gangetic West Bengal, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh's Rayalaseema, Maharastra's Vidarbha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. The election panel is now mulling to extend poll timings in several areas affected by heatwave so that voters can cast their ballot during evening hours.

In Rajasthan, the low turnout is attributed to the unexpected rainfall and the ongoing harvest season while in Bihar, Maoist presence is cited as likely reason for low turnout. However, Chhattisgarh's Maoist-hit Bastar saw an uptick in the turnout.

In Uttarakhand, low turnout is attributed to the busy wedding season in mid-April, according to reports citing officials.

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