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Elections 2009: Low Voting from Middle India

May 5th, 2009 · 28 Comments

Mumbai’s low voting percentage (about 40%) is causing much discussion and heartburn. This was the election when Middle India (comprising urban youth and professionals) was supposed to vote in great strength. None of that has happened.  I will outline my assessment of the reasons – and the possible solutions.

  • Declaring Voting Day a Holiday: Talk of the law of unintended consequences. Apparently, some notification was issued stating that comapnies had to give a holiday so everyone could wait. This helped create a 4-day vacation in Mumbai. In fact, if people had to go to work that day, chances are they would have voted and then gone off to work. Polling booths open at 8 am (or in some cases 7 am). There is no reason to make voting day a holiday. All that employees need is the flexibility to either come late or leave early — nothing more than that.
  • Natural Apathy to Politics and Politicians: This is now quite deep-rooted in Middle India, and political parties have done little to change it.  In many consitutencies, the candidates aren’t good. Also, voters don’t see any political party as different. There was no ‘wave’ to get peopleout in force to vote.And there is also the belief that ‘my one vote will make no difference.’ These factors will take time to address. But if India’s democracy has to be strengthened, we need political parties to begin a ‘continuous engagement process’ with Middle India. Open meetings should be organised every 3 months or so wherein the local MP can be questioned. Interactive onloine forums need to set up whereby people can give their feedback. Candidate selection by political parties also needs to be re-thought. The process of political parties re-connecting with Middle India will take time but it needs to start now.

(To be continued tomorrow)

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28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sundar // May 5, 2009 at 7:42 am

    a) We need different genre of politicians to attract Middle India. Middle India’s needs are substantially different.
    Such political leaders at various levels (local, assembly and parliament constituencies) would help to connect well with middle India.

    Such politicians should have strong voice in their party.
    Any political party recoginsing this and getting it right, could be in for a big pleasant surprise as vote swing of 5% decides winning or losing and this idea could turnout to be a blue ocean strategy.

    b) We also need flexibility in voting. We should be able to vote at any location in India with a smart citizen ID / electronic voter id and eventually online voting.
    Manytimes election process is very chaotic and my name was missing in the list 8 years back, without any reason.
    Election commission has started using IT in a big (but less mature way) and that adds to the chaos. I guess your name was eliminated by the patten matching software they use for elimination of duplicates!.

  • 2 Vishal // May 5, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Rajesh – As I said yesterday in my comment that education is the only solution. Many will argue that Education and voting do not connect ? The middle class is any way educated ?
    The answer is when majority of population is educated and are middle class then they will connect to local conditions. As of today the society is fragmented. They have different aspirations. If more than 50% of Mumbai is slum then their aspirations are bound to be different than the middle class.
    The solution to India problems is a big middle class which can only happen when they are all properly educated.
    We need to devote our energies in finding innovative solutions to get ourselves and our people educated.

    Educate all so that all Vote !


  • 3 sridharan // May 5, 2009 at 10:16 am

    1. If we have online voting system, it makes more easier to the citizens to vote
    2. In many cases citizens name is not entered correctly, typo error, due to that, few of the citizens would not have voted
    3. If the Politicians wanted to make voting as compulsory, then there should be option to vote to the Non-Politicians(Governor), in case the political party does not have the right candidate to the particular constituency,then the citizen should be able to vote to the Governor.
    4. If the political party come out with the VISION/Road-Map for each State/City/Village, then there is possibility of more voter turn-out
    5. As you said, the review should happen on the road-map on regular basis.
    6. Morally if we move towards more transparency system, every citizen would voluntarily come and vote.

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