CHENNAI (TIP): Close to 12 crore youths will be eligible to vote for the first time in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. To put that in perspective, no single party garnered more than 12 crore votes in the 2009 polls, showing how significant this segment can be if all of them register to vote. In the 2009 polls, the Congress polled 11.9 crore votes, the BJP 7.8 crore, BSP 2.6 crore and CPM 2.2 crore. No other party polled even a crore of votes across the country.
79 crore eligible voters
The draft electoral rolls published by various states at this stage show that the national total is just under 79 crore votes. Uttar Pradesh will have the highest potential firsttime voters with 2.3 crore young people crossing 18 in time for the polls. They will account for 17.6% of the state’s electorate of 12.9 crore. Maharashtra comes next with 1.05 crore first-time voters or 13.2% of the state’s electorate. Bihar is third with 94.3 lakh youths, followed by West Bengal with 90 lakh. These figures are derived from the age data released recently by the census, and are based on all those aged between 15 and 19 at the time of the 2011 census. All of them will be old enough to register to vote in 2014; none of them would have been eligible in 2009. The numbers have been reduced on the basis of the age-specific death rate for people between 15 and 19 years to account for people in this age group dying between 2011 and the polls. The state-wise numbers may vary slightly if one takes into account interstate migration from this age group, but the national number would be unaffected. “As per the latest census, UP and Bihar have the maximum number of children due to high birth rate. Naturally, there will be more young people eligible to vote,” said P Arokiasamy of the International Institute for Population Sciences. The Election Commission (EC) does a study to arrive at the number of eligible voters before every general election.
“It examines the data of those in the 18 to 25 age group. If enrolment is low, state chief electoral officers conduct special campaigns to enlist more young people. On the other hand, if there are too many voters over the age of 80, officials check again to ensure that names of all dead voters have been deleted,” said N Gopalaswami, former chief election commissioner. Among the southern states, Andhra Pradesh will have more than 80 lakh potential first-time voters followed by Tamil Nadu with 62 lakh. Karnataka and Kerala could have 58 lakh and 26 lakh such voters respectively. Delhi, which goes to the assembly polls in December, has 16.6 lakh youths eligible to register as voters. Rajasthan has 72.9 lakh and Madhya Pradesh 74 lakh. Smaller states like Himachal Pradesh and Union territories will have less than 10 lakh first-timers each. “We have tied up with internet browsing centres to make it easy for first-time voters and others to be included in the electoral rolls,” said Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer Praveen Kumar. “Volunteers are running campaigns in universities and colleges to register eligible students to vote.”