Irrespective of the long and intensive awareness campaigns by the Election Commission of India, on an average, at least one crore electors across Tamil Nadu did not cast their vote in every Parliamentary and Assembly election held since 1989. Meanwhile, the size of the electorate keeps swelling every year.
An analysis of the voting percentage shows the polling percentage during Assembly elections was higher compared to Lok Sabha polls due to various factors, such as interest in local issues and the Assembly being a smaller segment.
During the past 30 years, the highest polling percentage of 78 was recorded during 2011 Assembly elections and the lowest 57.95, during 1998 Lok Sabha polls.
An officer, who has observed elections in Tamil Nadu, argued that the interest of local issues among the electorate could be a major reason behind the trend of more voters exercising their franchise during an Assembly election.
“The electorate sees the work the MLA is doing but in the case of MP, there is his perception that he/she is involved in work that are far away. Also, Assembly segments are smaller and more candidates canvass for voting as against MP where only few are in the fray,” he pointed out.
While regional parties are more active in Assembly polls, the appeal of national parties is not much here, he observed and added that the voting percentage in rural areas has always been better than urban habitations.
Lack of interest
DMK MP and spokesperson T.K.S. Elangovan felt the lack of interest among the professionals settled in cities away from their native towns could have contributed to absenteism.
“Also, the challenge of waiting in queues could be a reason that many do not come to booths. While th e middle class and others vote, the trend of not voting is mostly among the upper class,” he contended.
Senior BJP leader L. Ganesan said that lack of awareness could be a reason. “Maybe not many people are thinking that the country’s Prime Minister could be from Tamil Nadu.” If you compare the polling percentage in local body polls, the polling percentage in Assembly polls could be less, he argued.
Many voters told The Hindu that they did not exercise their franchise as they were away from the native place where their names are enrolled in the voters’ list.
But, some skip voting as they are fed up with political parties. “I always had a notion we had to choose a lesser evil and hence did not votes,” said a voter.
“Earlier, I used to vote for a national party, which had great leaders but now even they are corrupt,” said a disenchanted senior citizen from Mogappair West.
Former Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta, however, said, “Due to various measures taken by the Election Commission, the polling percentage is improving.”