Assembly elections: Awareness drive pushed up turnout, Delhi recorded 65.13 per cent

Electionsill evening, Delhi’s turnout was 67 per cent, which was expected to touch 70 per cent after the entire compilation process is completed.

Delhi's record voter turnout this assembly elections may have fuelled hopes of a "change" but going by the record turnout across all the five states that went to polls over the past one month, days of linking turnout to incumbency may be over for good, according to polling officials.

On Wednesday, Delhi's turnout was 65.86 per cent. While the turnout of male voters was recorded at 65.48 per cent, that of the females was 64.68 per cent.

This elections, all the five states have shown an increase in polling, ranging from a little below 1 per cent in Mizoram to more than 10 per cent in Delhi. In Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, women voters outnumbered men. This despite the threat from Maoist extremists in Chhattisgarh.

A substantial fraction of this high turnout, election officials say, was likely because of first-time voters. In the last five years, registration of first-time voters has been the highest.

The reason for the massive polling percentages, they believe, is not politics but the voter education exercise undertaken over the past decade. Inclusion of the none-of-the-above option too has ensured more people come out to vote.

Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi says in the 21 elections since the Election Commission started its voter awareness drive — SVEEP (Systematic Education for Electoral Participation) in 2009-10 — polling percentage has steadily risen in every state.

He says the only reason for the high turnout is SVEEP that has ensured that the Election Commission developed population-specific communication strategies. "Since we started the programme in 2009-10 this is the 21st state where the polling percentage has gone up and women have been outnumbering men," he says.

"In fact, all the old notions of anti-incumbency and pro-incumbency stand overturned because there is clearly no set pattern to be seen any more in the high voter turnout. However, in Delhi an incremental factor has been the Aam Aadmi Party. There has been immense mobilisation because of them," he says.

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