EC expects 75 per cent voter turnout this time

The Election Commission (EC) this time has done a campaign blitzkrieg to ensure that a large number of people cast their vote on Sunday.

Whether the 75 per cent voter turnout the EC is hopeful of will be achieved will be known only by late Sunday evening. But the closest to this target was achieved by Karnataka only once, way back in 1978, when 71.9 per cent voted, which is the highest ever.

Dramatic rise

In fact, it was also the election that saw the biggest dramatic rise in voter turnout between elections, from 61.57 per cent in 1972, up by 10 per cent. It is almost the same extent of rise that the EC is hopeful of this time, from 64.68 per cent in 2008 to 75 per cent in 2013.

Interestingly, political factors have played a role in high voter turnouts as the history of voting in Karnataka testifies. For instance, the high turnout in 1978 can be attributed to the large participation of women, backward castes and Dalits during the chief ministership of D. Devaraj Urs.

The high turnout of 1994 is attributed to an unprecedented unity of dominant castes (Lingayat and Vokkaliga) in favour of the Janata Dal, as Congress faced its worst electoral performance in the same election, garnering 26.95 per cent votes. Since then, the voting percentages have seen a steady decline in Karnataka.

More women

Another important and positive phenomenon is the decline in the gap between the voting percentages of men and women since 1989. As the table suggests, after the 1989 elections, the gap has reduced over the years. It may not be a coincidence that Karnataka has had women’s reservations in panchayats since 1987, bringing more women into electoral politics.

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