‘Women voters propel turnouts into history books’

December 06, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 05:58 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Much of the credit for the high turnouts goes to the Election Commission

An analysis of electoral data in the five States that recently went to the polls shows that the very high voter turnouts are, in part, due to a silent, ongoing revolution — Women voters came out in unprecedented numbers, resulting in record-breaking turnouts.

In Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, women voter turnout has risen much faster than men turnout between the 2008 Assembly elections and this polls. Only in Mizoram did men voter turnout rise faster, but here too, women turnout was higher. Women voter turnout was higher than men voter turnout in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh too.

The men-women differential in voter turnout is the closest it has ever been in four of the five States, except Mizoram, showing a strong convergence between the sexes over time.

Seen over a longer period, women voter turnout rose by 20 percentage points in 25 years in Rajasthan, and by 20 percentage points over just 20 years in Delhi. Men voter turnout grew significantly slower.

Credit to EC

Much of the credit for the high voter turnouts is given to the Election Commission for its efficiency. The Commission cleaned up the voter rolls, updating the addresses of voters who have moved out and deleting excess names, an official said.

A senior EC official, who did not want to be quoted during an ongoing election, told The Hindu that the Commission had made special efforts to bring out women voters, focussing its efforts on constituencies where the voter sex ratio lagged behind the sex ratio in the Census.

In Delhi, the Chief Electoral Officer commissioned a study of its electoral rolls in July and then directed officers to work on improving the sex ratio of registered voters in the constituencies lagging behind, like the semi-rural constituencies in the south of the State.

“When we started the process in 2012, the sex ratio of the electorate was just 788 registered women voters for every 1,000 men voters. We brought it up to 804,” Delhi’s special CEO Shurbir Singh told The Hindu .

After getting more women registered, the Commission focussed on encouraging women to vote by focussing awareness campaigns and motivation messages on them, he said.

At the parliamentary level too, the sex ratio of voters has been steadily improving, though it still lags behind that of the overall population. In 2009, the sex ratio of the population was around 939 women for every 1000 men, the sex ratio of registered voters was 913 and that of voters was 846. Yet this was a big jump from the last Lok Sabha election, where the sex ratio of voters was just 795 women voters for every 1000 men voters.

Moreover, this rise in women voter turnouts has been a continuous, all-India phenomenon. As first reported by The Hindu last month, political scientists Mudit Kapoor and Shamika Ravi, both assistant professors at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, found that the sex ratio of voters at the Assembly election level has been steadily rising in all States over the last 50 years. The Hindu ’s new findings in the five States fitted in with the pattern they had observed, Professor Kapoor told The Hindu on Thursday.

Rising women turnout, moreover, was significant Professor Kapoor said, because research had shown that men and women voted differently.

More women voters than male voters in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram

EC’s efficiency by cleaning up the voter rolls and deleting excess names deserves mention

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