Society

Visakhapatnam’s first-time voters share their expectations

Raise your finger: Will you vote on April 11?

Raise your finger: Will you vote on April 11?  

What does it mean to be a first time voter in the world’s largest democratic project?

These are the young, concerned and aware-of-their-rights first-time voters. According to the Election Commission of India, over 1.5 crore first-time voters will exercise their voting right this election. In the last general elections, the first-time voters turnout in Andhra Pradesh was among the highest along with Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

First on social media
  • Most of the young voters are relying on social media to keep themselves updated about the elections.
  • According to a survey conducted by Twitter, over 80 % first-time voters used social media to stay in tune with current affairs.

So what do they want from their politicians? Fostering an environment of tolerance and progress, says 21-year-old Saurav Krishna, a B.Tech student. While he has not decided whom to vote for, Saurav says he wants to see a change in caste-based and religion-based politics.

College canteens ring with conversations and debates about election candidates, political parties and their manifestos. “It is non stop,” declares Gayatri Bala a student at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University. “In the canteen, before classes, while hanging out in cafes — it is like politics has completely taken over everything.”The 22-year-old first-time voter believes that these discussions are healthy as they put forth various perspectives.

She says that of all the power that lies with the voters, NOTA (None of The Above) is the most empowering as it does not force the voters to choose from whatever is offered. “The leader I would want is someone who delivers his promises or at least works diligently to fulfill them. Currently what I see is just impressive manifestos but little work,” she adds.

Vineela Rao, a 22-year-old first-time voter, believes that every candidate who is showcasing their will to work for the welfare of the people should be given a chance. “I want a leader who works for the people below the poverty line. Rather than distributing money, the leader should work to create employment for them and make basic amenities like shelter and safe drinking water easily accessible,” she says. Vineela supports candidates who will strengthen the education system of the country.\

Polls and numbers
  • Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections in Andhra Pradesh will take place on April 11.
  • As per Election Commission with three lakh new voters, Visakhapatnam has the highest new registrations in the State.
  • As of March 25, over 89,000 voters in 18 to 19-year-old age group have been registered from Visakhapatnam.
  • As many as 4,052 polling booths will be set up in the district.

Twenty-four-year-old Medha Kohli believes that a leader who staunchly supports sustainable development would be ideal. “For years we have seen instances of ecosystems being destroyed or the lands of farmers being taken away in an unjust manner all under the name of development. I would not support a government that brings to me development at the cost of someone or something else,” she says. Medha plans to travel from Visakhapatnam to Hyderabad to cast her vote.

Former B.Tech student from Andhra University, Siva Rama Krishna will be paying close attention to party manifestos before casting his vote for the first time. He is looking forward to reforms in the education system in the State. According to him, quotas in education institutes don’t help the people who need them the most. “I’ll vote for the party which promises to make education affordable for everyone,” says 22-year-old Siva.

Each vote matters
  • India holds the record for the highest number of votes in a national general election. In 2009, between April 16 and May 13, 417.2 million votes were made in five phases to elect the 543 members of the 15th Lok Sabha.

Having shifted to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad, Harika Bantupalli updated her voter ID details via National Voter Service Portal a few months ago. “The online process was really straight forward. It only took me 30 minutes to fill the form,” says the 25-year old. According to her, this year, voters face a tough choice between giving a new party a chance or letting the existing party build on its work.

Ch Pranav, a 22-year-old management student says he is excited about casting his first vote for the world’s largest democratic project. But he admits that there is a deep sense of apathy among the people of his generation because of the kind of politics that parties do. He says, “It is very important to restore the confidence in the electoral system. Only then there will be a social and political transformation.”

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 10:33:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/visakhapatnams-first-time-voters-share-their-expectations/article26745474.ece

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