Bangalore, April 5: Half of the 46 million voters across Karnataka are below 40 years and the enrollment of first-time voters in the 18-19 years age group has been “remarkable this time”.
The southern state goes to the polls in a single phase April 17 to elect 28 lawmakers to the 16th Lok Sabha.
“Our efforts to enroll as many citizens above 18 years as voters since January paid off as we have seen a record number of them, especially youth registering for the EPIC (electoral photo identity card),” state chief electoral officer Anil Kumar Jha told IANS.
Of the state’s 63.9-million population, 46 million are the electorate, with 23.5 million male and 22.6 million female voters.
“Enrollment of first-time voters in the 18-19 years age group has been remarkable this time, as 804,000 have registered for EPICs, while 10.4 million voters are in the 20-29 years age group, constituting 23 percent of the electorate,” Jha said.
Since the state assembly elections were held in May 2013, the poll panel has added a whopping 2.3 million new voters during the last 10 months, including 90,000 online.
The number of voters has increased by 4.5 million from the 2009 general elections when the total electorate was 41.8 million.
The highest number of voters across the state is in the 30-39 years age group with 11.8 million, accounting for 26.3 percent of the electorate, followed by 10.4 million in the 20-29 years age group (23.4 percent), 900,000 in the 40-49 years age group (20.2 percent), 613,000 in the 50-59 years group (13.8 percent) and 380,000 in the 60-69 age group (8.6 percent.)
“In view of the record increase in the number of voters, we are making elaborate arrangements to ensure every voter gets an opportunity to exercise his/her franchise April 17. Besides increasing the number of polling booths to 54,261 and electronic voting machines (EVMs) proportionately, we are extending voting time to 11 hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Jha said.
“We expect voting percentage to go up substantially in this election compared to the 2009 elections (59 percent) not only because of the increase in the number of voters, especially in the 18-39 years age group, but also due to greater awareness among the electorate and intense campaign to participate in the democratic exercise,” Jha added.
The Bangalore North constituency has the largest electorate – a whopping 2.3 million voters, while Udupi-Chickmagalur in the coastal region has the least number of voters – 1.4 million.
In all, 434 candidates, including 21 women and 195 independents are in the fray.
Increase in the size of the constituencies after the delimitation exercise in 2008 and steady urbanisation have brought more voters into cities and towns from rural areas across the state.
“We are hoping voting percentage in all the three Bangalore parliamentary constituencies (South, Central and North), which was 47 percent in the 2009 elections, will be over 50 percent this time, as 53 percent of its electorate voted in the 2013 assembly elections,” Jha added.
(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)