I still have the indelible ink on my finger as a reminder that I voted. (Actually, it’s now only on my nail but you didn’t want to know about that didja?)
Bangaloreans, as you’ve probably heard, didn’t exactly come out to vote. However, I’m not sure if the official figures are entirely accurate. I’m not saying that the voter turnout was not low but that the turnout might not have been as low as indicated.
The day before I voted, I happened to notice duplicate entries of neighbours with the last name being left out for one person, changed for another, etc. It was too late to do anything about it, so that was that. But, if I noticed at least three duplicates, how many were there that went unnoticed?
These duplicates would show up as non-voters, so that skews the voter percentages. It wouldn’t have skewed them to such a degree that the percentages would change a great deal (would it?), but they would have changed.
Anyway, it does seem that people didn’t vote or didn’t register to vote or couldn’t register to vote. I think a part of the reason was that the campaigns to register to vote started too late or weren’t that effective. (Note that the campaigns to ask people to exercise their vote really gathered steam in the run up to the elections.)
There are many people who come from out of state or out of town to work in Bangalore and I’ll bet that such people from those companies did not or could not register to vote. If the campaigns want to be more effective, I think they have to target companies, organize drives within companies, etc. So, the NGOs, who did a terrific job of raising awareness, must find a way to get people to register.
The feeling that I got from reading people’s experiences in newspapers and blogs was that they had problems at the registration stage. And that stage can be frustrating. It is up to the election commission to figure out a way to make the process less error-ridden. It is almost a routine thing to have names spelled wrong, to have addresses changed, etc. People who’ve to take a day off work to submit forms may not be so thrilled to discover that even though they entered all the information correctly, someone screwed up. It is easy for people who are busy to get discouraged.
All this is not to justify the low voter percentages. If you had a vote and didn’t vote, it’s a shame. Not shame on you or anything, just a shame. (I couldn’t register (in time) to vote in the last assembly election and it still rankles.) When you see the kinds of restrictions that people in countries without democracies face, you have to appreciate the freedoms that we have in a democracy. Sure, our democracy is flawed, it could be better, but it also could be a lot worse: a whole lot worse.
The bottom line is that you should register to vote (look in the newspapers for the next opportunity) and you should vote. Plus, whatever the cynics may say, it’s a satisfying feeling to walk away from an election booth having voted.