Top five reasons why Chennai’s polling turnout was dismal

Chennai: With an overall voter turnout of 59.01 per cent, the three Lok Sabha constituencies in Chennai recorded some of the poorest stats in Tamilnadu.

The State itself saw 70.90 per cent voters turn up at polling booths Thursday which is lower than the 73.68 per cent recorded during the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

The city, which has pulled down the State’s overall figures, has shown a steady decline since 2009. The reason are many and News Today¬†pinpoints a few that has to be corrected in time for the 2021 Assembly elections.

Summer vacation
Chennai saw polls during summer holidays when families were enjoying vacations away from the heat of the city’s April weather. This pulled down voting figures considerably. At least two votes per family – that of a mother and father of schoolgoing children would have to be subtracted.

Long holidays
Polling happened on a Thursday in the city and most of the IT company’s declared holiday for their employees the next day for Good Friday so that they could enjoy a long weekend. Though it was a boon for people, it proved to be a bane for the democratic process. The salaried IT class chose to cool their heels at home or go out on trips during the long holidays rather than visiting polling booths.

Floating population
Most of the population of Chennai are not a native of the city. A sizeable portion who had registered their residences here and shifted to other parts of the State or even the country without removing their names from the voting list here. There are also many people who travel in and out of the city week in and week out for their work. And, a lot of the youngsters are also students who are doing their UG and PG courses in a different country or State.

EVM malfunction
Many booths in South Chennai and Sriperumbudur faced malfunctioning of EVMs and other technical glitches. Voting also started late at a few places.

This was a disappointment for voters who turned up early to avoid the long queues and the sun.

At booth 61 in Ashok Nagar, the Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) suffered a glitch which left many voters angry. They had to wait for more than 45 minutes for an engineer to come and replace the machinery.

Similar incidents were reported in other parts of the city too. By the time this could be rectified, many senior citizens could be seen leaving the long lines and heading back home disappointed.

Public apathy
Despite the government’s efforts to urge the public to vote through ads, social media campaigns, and public outreach programmes, the voting percentage in the city keeps going down every election.

Ironically, Chennai which is well connected and has the most access to these government outreach programmes has always shown poor voter turnout. The public are not the only ones to be blamed as the politicians regardless of which party comes to power have failed to address the issues that concern the country. This has led to a situation where the citizens have a lack of enthusiasm for the democratic process of voting.

Report card
Chennai South – 57.43%
Chennai Central – 57.86%
Chennai North – 61.76%
Chennai overall – 59.01%
Tamilnadu overall – 70.90%
National average (Phase 2)- 67.84%