Don’t blame the voter for low voter turnout


For the last three years, I have been meeting lot of politicians, political parties, election officers, government representatives, activists, NGOs and one common thing that I have noticed everywhere is that they blame the voter for the low voter turnout. And when I ask them how many times they themselves have voted – they always come up with a ‘genuine’ excuse why they have not voted most of the time!!

Voter does not vote for various reasons. We have tried to make a list of reasons why they do not vote.

1.      Voter is not registered as a voter anywhere due to lack of ID proof / bureaucratic and time-consuming processes / denied on flimsy ground / lack of awareness about the registration process

2.      Voter is registered in a city other than the city of residence

3.      Voter does not have the voter ID card, although he is registered

4.      Voter is travelling on the date of voting for family or office reasons

5.      Voter is travelling for holidaying

6.      Voter is ill and not able to travel to the booth to vote

7.      Voter has work in office

8.      Voter is a daily laborer and cannot afford to waste time in queue

9.      Voting booth is very far from voter’s residence / work place

10.  Voter does not want to spend money to travel to booth / the cost of travel to booth is not worth it for the voter

11.  Voter does not want to waste time standing in queue

12.  Voter does not have the exact details of which booth he is supposed to vote. The ‘purchi’ with his booth details, serial number etc. has not reached him and booth officer cannot locate him in the voter list although he has the voter ID.

13.  Voter is a soldier posted at front away from his city of registration

14.  Voter is an NRI living abroad

15.  Voter is an election worker, on government duty, and posted at a location other than his city of registration by the government to ensure impartiality.

16.  Voter is an election worker, of a political party, who has been posted at the central control room or at a booth / location other than his registered place of voting

17.   Voter is a student who is studying in a college outside his city of registration

18.  Voter is a student who has exams on the day of election or in the next few days

19.  Voter is a sportsperson who has a match on the day of voting or is travelling for training

20.  Voter is a housewife with young kids. She can neither stand in queue with the kids not leave them alone at home

21.  Voter is a pregnant lady

22.  Voter is a driver, housemaid or anybody who is employed in similar low paying jobs and who do not get holiday on day of election

23.  Voter is a truck driver carrying goods miles away from home

24.  Voter is a pilot or air-hostess flying passengers across the globe

25.  Voter is a local train driver / bus driver driving voters to the booth

26.  Voter is a lawyer or a judge who must be present for the court hearing

27.   Voter is a person who is paid by the hour

28.  Voter is a scientist working against time to find solution to a deadly disease

29.  Voter is a laborer who is working on an infrastructure project which is already delayed

30.  Voter is a rocket scientist who is working against deadline to next launch

31.  Voter is a call center employee responding to emergency calls relating to women safety, medical emergencies, road accidents, passport issues, Indian Railway helpline

32.  Voter is an army men or a police officer given duty to ensure safety of booth other than the booth where he is supposed to vote

33.  Voter is an actor / movie crew shooting at an international location

34.  Voter is a newly married lady who has moved to a city other than city or registration

35.  Voter is a consultant working out of client location

36.  Voter is a corporate sector / government sector employee who is working in the city other than city of residence

37.   Voter is an auto driver or a taxi driver who earn only when he drives and his interest clock on car / auto loan does not stop even on the election day

38.  Voter is a television company / newspaper company employee entrusted with live election coverage

39.  Voter is a doctor looking after patients in a hospital with long queue

40.  Voter is a doctor working in emergency ward

The list is endless. Of the 40 types of voter above, who you believe is justified to not vote and who you think needs to be blamed for not voting?

It is a widely accepted thought that – voting is a service to the national and responsibility of every citizen and hence each citizen should do the same even if that means some personal sacrifice. I agree that voting is a service to the nation and responsibility of every citizen. But is personal sacrifice necessary?

A soldier who is willing to sacrifice his life for the country – do you think he need to be blamed for not voting? Voting percentage of soldiers in the country is only 2-3%!!! This is despite they are being provided with postal ballot facility. Why are they not voting? They are not responsible people? They do not believe in personal sacrifice? They do not care about the well-being of the country?

During the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the voter turnout percentage was only 66%. Winning party vote share was 32% of 66% i.e. 21%. If the rest 33% had voted, would the result have been different? Do the numbers suggest that we have ‘Real Democracy’ in the country?

A voting system, where winning party get less votes than the number of voters who did not cast their vote, is defective to say the least. We must admit that our voting system is relic of the past. Few years back it was okay to accept a customer to stand in queue for hours to pay electricity bill, for rail ticket, for withdrawing cash from bank, for milk, for water, for ration. In the age of internet, it should be a criminal offence to make people wait in queue. As per news reports more than 70 people died standing in queue during demonetization. But then, voting is a national service, so what if you die in the process of voting.

Right2Vote is a right promised by the Constitution of India. As per the Election Commission directives – Polling booth need to be set up so that no voter should travel more than 2 kms to reach the booth. And I am sure, here booth means booth where the voter can vote and not any booth. Today a voter is not allowed to vote at any booth and is supposed to vote at the specific booth he is registered. This means, Election Commission is not standing by their promise of booth within 2 kms and large section of population is being denied their Right2Vote. This means the provision is just an eyewash. A soldier, an NRI, a migrant and many other segments listed above are all denied their Right2Vote because they are not stationed at their original place of registration.

At Right2Vote Infotech, we have built the world’s first mobile verified voting platform which would assure Right2Vote to the citizens. People would be able to vote anytime and from anywhere directly from their mobile. There would not be any requirement to visit a booth to vote. Voters would be voting directly from their mobile and verification would happen real time using Aadhaar. The whole voting process would take less than a minute. Apart from saying minimum 90% time, cost and effort for the election commission, the system would save minimum 90% time, cost and effort for the voter also. This would lead to substantial increase in voter turnout leading to better election results. All 40 types of voters listed above and beyond, would benefit from this mobile platform and would be able to regain their Right2Vote.