Low voter turnout in Bengaluru: Citizens highlight discrepancies in electoral rolls

Bengaluru recorded a voter turnout of 57.43%. Voters reported issues like deletions, duplications and names of deceased voters in the electoral rolls.

Almost half of Bengaluru’s citizens did not vote in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. The city recorded a 57.43% voter turnout this year, not much of an improvement from the previous 2019 elections. The low voter turnout has often been ascribed to apathy, but this alone is not a satisfactory explanation. Several factors have been cited for the low voter turnout, from discrepancies in electoral rolls to the scorching heat.

Voter roll errors: Deletions, duplications and deceased names

There were complaints that hundreds of voter names were either deleted or missing in Chickpet and Akkipet in Bangalore Central. 

In a separate incident, an audio complaint alleged that the ballot button malfunctioned in the control unit while casting votes at booth number 17 in Shantinagar in the Bangalore Central constituency. The District Electoral Officer, however, said that there was no case of non-activation of the ballot button.

A few voters told Citizen Matters about instances of names of deceased people and those who have left the city still appearing in the voter rolls.

Datta Saraf, a resident of Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency, observes: “One of my uncles, who had shifted to Bengaluru, had provided my address as a permanent address and was voting in this ward. But he expired more than nine years ago and his name is still on the list.” He adds: “In our area, Mr. Jagdish had rented out his house and his tenants had got their voter IDs in his address. They vacated the house a long time back, but their names are still on the list.”

Read more: Special Project: Lok Sabha Elections 2024

Meenakshi, who resides in HAL third stage, also pointed out discrepancies. “There are eight names which are registered in the voters’ list. My name appears twice. And the previous tenant has three voters registered in addition to the actual four voters. So, effectively there are eight voter names out of which four IDs are incorrect.”

Shilpa, another voter, said: “In my apartment 900 voter slips were delivered, according to the Booth Level Officer, 50% of them are non-resident voters – relocated or dead! This is not unique to my apartment. I have heard similar instances from other apartments too, especially older ones have reported 30% – 40% of the names in their booth have either relocated or have passed away.”

There have also been instances reported of people possessing two voter ID cards. Geetha*, a domestic worker, says she has two voter IDs: one in her maiden name in Madiwala and the second in Bommanahalli.

The issue of voter roll errors has, in fact, been acknowledged by a senior election officer, as per this report in The Hindu. He admitted to a failure to delete voters from the electoral rolls in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits. He said that 16 lakh voters should have been deleted from the list, but this was not effectively done.

map of voter turnout in Bengaluru and surrounding constituencies 2024
Bangalore Central recorded the lowest voter turnout while Bangalore Rural was the highest. Map: OpenCity.in
Map of assembly-segment level turnout in Bengaluru urban for Lok Sabha 2024
This is how Bengaluru voted in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. Map: OpenCity.in

Other factors 

People going on vacation during the weekend was another reason cited for the low voter turnout. Standing in long queues in the heat also seemed to be a deterrent for voters. A voter in Koramangala complained that no arrangements were made for pandals for shade, providing drinking water, and ramps for wheelchairs.

Voter turnout percentage in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

  • Bangalore South: 53.17%
  • Bangalore North: 54.45% 
  • Bangalore Central: 54.06%
  • Bangalore Rural: 68.03% 

Rajkumar Dugar, founder Citizens for Citizens (C4C), says: “Apart from apathy, a feeling of “why waste time, when the result will not change with my vote”, we also have a lot of people who have settled here in the past couple of decades. Their emotional bonding with Bengaluru is still weak. But most of them have opinions on how we should be governed, what is right and what is wrong.”

Dugar further notes that holding elections on a day adjacent to a holiday, like a weekend, also has a bearing. “With the weather being so dry & hot, elections on Friday meant lot of people actually left the city for cooler places during the long weekend. But the apathy is unfortunately so extreme that if the special awareness drives for generally educated people in the city and a lot of coaxing by restaurants, riders, etc. with freebies for those who voted, were not in place, probably the percentage would have been lower.”

“In addition, the political class has actually let down their constituents, especially in Bengaluru, by their generally lacklustre performance in the recent past. However, the contrast is too stark: Outside Bengaluru, across the state, voting percentage is clearly and consistently higher. Given all “genuine” reasons, a healthy voting percentage should be at least 67%. Bengaluru has a lot of ground to cover.”  

*name changed on request

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