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Innovative Polling Booths Fail to Boost Voter Turnout in Uttarakhand’s Hill Districts

Despite creative efforts to engage voters, the turnout in Uttarakhand’s first-time voters falls short of expectations.

EW Correspondent, Nainital 

In the serene hill districts of Uttarakhand, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections were marked by an array of innovative polling booths designed to encourage voter participation. The Election Commission of India, in a bid to make voting more accessible and appealing, introduced specialized booths such as pink booths for women, youth booths for young voters, and unique booths for the Raji Janjati community. One such booth in Kunaithi village, numbered 67, even allowed voters to take a photograph after casting their vote, celebrating their participation in the democratic process.

The enthusiasm among new and young voters was palpable, with approximately 2.31 lakh first-time voters enrolled in Uttarakhand. Notable among them was the senior Treasury officer of Champawat, who cast her vote at booth number 68, alongside other government officials who participated with the hope of inspiring higher voter turnout.

However, despite these concerted efforts, the overall turnout did not reflect the anticipated surge. The final figures showed a modest increase in voter participation compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but the numbers fell short of the Election Commission’s target. Here’s a look at the voter turnout percentages for Uttarakhand’s five seats in the 2024 elections, compared to the previous election:

  • – Tehri Garhwal: 2024 – 51.01% | 2019 – 60.3%
  • – Garhwal: 2024 – 48.79% | 2019 – 59.0%
  • – Almora: 2024 – 44.43% | 2019 – 61.5%
  • – Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar: 2024 – 59.36.% | 2019 – 62.8%
  • – Haridwar: 2024 – 59.01% | 2019 – 63.4%

The data reveals a significant decline in voter turnout, with the highest drop observed in Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar. The reasons behind this decrease are multifaceted and may include factors such as voter apathy, disillusionment with political processes, or a sense of predetermined election outcomes.

The speciality of this election lay not just in the innovative polling booths but also in the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code by the BJP in March 2024, which was expected to be a pivotal issue influencing voter sentiment. Despite this, the turnout suggests a disconnect between the electorate’s expectations and the political narrative.

As the largest democracy in the world, India’s electoral participation is a critical measure of its democratic health. The low turnout in Uttarakhand’s hill districts, especially among the youth and first-time voters, is a concerning trend that warrants immediate attention. It is imperative for the Election Commission and political parties to delve deeper into the causes of voter disengagement and develop strategies to reinvigorate the electorate’s trust and interest in the democratic process.

The 2024 elections in Uttarakhand have highlighted the need for more than just creative polling solutions. They underscore the importance of addressing the underlying issues that deter citizens from exercising their right to vote, ensuring that future elections truly reflect the will of the people.



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