Uttarakhand has worst voting percentage among Himalayan states after J&K


Uttarakhand has the worst voting percentage among Himalayan states after Jammu and Kashmir during Lok Sabha elections. The voting percentage of the State has also been significantly lower than the national average during past LS elections. Though the Election Commission always sets a target for the State to achieve a certain voting percentage during elections, no analysis is done by the administration after the target is not achieved.

This was opined by experts who think that consistent low voter turnout in all four LS elections conducted since Uttarakhand’s inception is a major concern. They said that ECI and agencies concerned often seemingly move on after elections probably believing migration and difficult geographical conditions to be the main reasons behind low voting percentage which has only made the situation worse in the State. They said that though it cannot be neglected that migration and geographical factors do cause hindrances in voter participation during elections, these causes cannot be held entirely responsible for the poor voting percentage of the whole State in the past two decades. The activist and founder of the Dehradun-based Social Development for Communities (SDC) Foundation, Anoop Nautiyal said that blaming migration and difficult geographical conditions as the only reasons for low voter turnout in Uttarakhand is a repetitive and lazy response. He said, “In the last LS elections, Uttarakhand’s rank was 31 out of 36 states and union territories regarding the total voter turnout. Out of 10 Himalayan states, it was on 9th position just before Jammu and Kashmir. The State’s voter turnout was 61.88 per cent whereas the northeast states like Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim recorded voting percentage ranges from 71.3 per cent to 83 per cent. The voting percentage in the northeast states, where connectivity and migration issues are worse than us, has a greater voter turnout than us. It clearly shows that migration and geographical factors alone cannot be held solely responsible for the low voter turnout here.” He said that these states have worse conditions than Uttarakhand in terms of migration and geographical conditions but their voting percentage is still higher by at least 10 per cent. Experts also opined that lower voting percentage also reflects voters’ apathy towards political parties and candidates. They said that some villages and areas in the State openly declare that they will not vote during elections because of their unaddressed issues. Many people feel dejected and unmotivated to vote after they feel unheard by the parties for years. They believe that voter participation often declines during LS elections because political parties usually address and raise national issues that often fail to align with the concerns of locals that have been due for years. Unfortunately, this apathy continues to be reflected in the voter participation of first-time voters in the State. As per the official data, only about 35 per cent of first time voters registered themselves as voters in Uttarakhand this time against 60 per cent of first-time voters in the neighbouring state Himachal Pradesh. It is a grave matter of concern and the experts believe that the ECI, political parties and all other agencies concerned should conduct a deep analysis and research why people are apprehensive about voting in elections. A full-fledged analysis and research will help in addressing the real causes of poor voting percentages in the State rather than blaming it repeatedly on migration and geographical conditions, they added.

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