To Vote Or Not To Vote? Understanding The Indian Voter

It’s that time of the year when the political buzz is at its peak and all eyes are focussed on those crucial voting weeks. Election 2019 is just a couple of weeks away and parties are busy in a last-ditch effort to impress the 900 million voters who will soon be deciding their fate.

Making 2019 more interesting are the 84 million people, mostly youth, who will head to polls for the first time this year. Given their massive size and influence, youngsters today have grown to become a major focal point for parties and politicians alike. First-time voters, in particular, are more educated, better informed and tech-savvy than before, making them extremely hard to ignore.

The countdown to the D-day has begun in full earnest. Soon, millions of Indians will make a choice to either exercise their right or stay away from this political fight. Piplsay dives into the election mania to figure out how engaged the typical Indian voters* are and what are the rights they seek to enjoy.

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Vote for change

In what can be seen as a positive sign, almost 7 out of 10 Indians seem keenly invested in the election process. This includes 60% respondents in the age group of 18-24 yrs and 68% respondents in the 25-34 yr age bracket. Unlike before, youngsters today know exactly what they want from their leaders and will go to great lengths to ensure that their voices are heard.

On the other hand, political indifference is the foremost reason why people choose not to vote. While this sentiment could stem from their disappointment with the government,  the urban middle and upper class’s non-dependence on the state could be another factor fueling this trend.

With more and more people shifting to other cities for better education, job opportunities and marriage, domestic migration has come to become an important issue. Largely made up of married women and youngsters, this segment is most prone to be excluded from the election process, often due to tedious registration process or lack of awareness about voting rights.

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According to official data, 280 million registered voters did not cast their vote in 2014 elections. That’s one-third of the 834 million people who were eligible to vote at that time

While disinterest in politics could also be a reason for this huge non-participation, the impact of the above-mentioned factors cannot be ruled out either.

More options, more votes!

With both urbanization and political awareness at its peak, the demand for a more inclusive election process is fast gaining ground. According to the Piplsay survey, a majority of respondents seem to favor both compulsory and online voting for increased people participation. Similarly, for migrant voters, extending privileges like the postal ballot, so far limited to only members of the armed forces and overseas government officials, seem to be the most favored option.

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Though the Election Commission has for long dismissed these voting methods for logistical and security reasons, people nonetheless continue to push for change, as clearly revealed by the Piplsay survey. The issue is only set to gather more momentum with the government’s latest decision to allow 3.1 million NRI’s to participate in Indian elections through proxy voting.

Will they, Won’t they?

Given the current political discourse and its ramifications, 2019 can easily be called the mother of all elections. With a record 900 million voters eligible to vote for over 2200 odd political parties, it will surely be a contest like no other.

But will Indian voters come out in large numbers or will they choose to remain indifferent? That an interesting question whose answer is hard to predict. For the only thing predictable about Indian elections is that they are unpredictable.

*Based on 20,000 responses

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