Delhi on Sunday recorded a voter turnout of about 60% for the seven Lok Sabha seats. The voter turnout in Delhi dropped by about 5% as compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. There are 143 lakh voters in Delhi, and 60% polling indicates that approximately 86 lakh people voted, and about 57 lakh didn't vote.
In 2014, all seven constituencies in Delhi had witnessed a voter turnout of more than 61%, with Chandni Chowk topping the chart at 67.87%. However, only three constituencies – Chandni Chowk, East Delhi, and North East Delhi – could achieve that feat this time. The voter turnout in Chandni Chowk was recorded at 62.6% as compared to 66.07% in 2014. In North East Delhi, the voter turnout was 63.45% while in East Delhi it was 56.4% as compared to 65.4% in 2014. In New Delhi and South Delhi constituency, polling remained low at 57.3% and 56.4%, respectively. Similar pattern of voting was observed in North West Delhi at 58.0% and West Delhi at 60.6%.
The increase in voter turnout was the highest in South Delhi, 15.5%. Between the 2009 and 2014 parliamentary elections, Delhi had witnessed the most impressive growth in turnout among metropolitan cities, with a 13.3% point increase – from 51.8% to 65.1%. Chief Election Officer Ranbir Singh said he had expected a higher turnout as officials at his office and at the district level had worked hard on voter awareness and motivational campaigns. “The drop in turnout was disappointing,” he said.
The drop in the turn out is likely because of multiple factors. The CEO indicated that the low voter turnout could be attributed to the scorching heat of Delhi, in comparison to 2014, when the polling took place in early April. A bigger reason for the low turnout and a more dangerous one, is the lack of voter enthusiasm and the failure of political parties to set an aspirational political agenda. The Election Commission has also agreed to create more effective campaigns to rope in voters with the upcoming state assembly polls in early part of 2020.
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The polling day was marred by a few instances of glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and missing names. AAP’s Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti alleged that EVMs in two booths weren’t functioning in the morning. Tilak Nagar MLA Jarnail Singh, too, alleged EVM malfunctioning. Mudit Agarwal, son of Congress’ Chandni Chowk candidate JP Agarwal, alleged EVMs malfunctioned at a few booths in Matia Mahal and Ballimaran Assembly segments. The polling process was also delayed in some areas because of defects detected during mock polls in the beginning of the day. However, everyone who queued up before close of polls at 6 PM were given chits and allowed to vote.
Meanwhile, in Kasturba Nagar, over a thousand voters would have lost their right to exercise their franchise had the Election Commission gone ahead with a proposal to close down a polling booth in the area. According to Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh, the government accommodations in Kasturba Nagar, which comes under the New Delhi parliamentary constituency, were redeveloped and residents of the area were shifted to other areas.
Some positive instances also came to light on the day of the polling. All women booths were set up in Delhi which drew more women voters. In a first for the city, as many as 17 all-woman staffed booths had been established for the Lok Sabha elections in the seven constituencies of Delhi, where, from presiding officers to ground staff, all were women.
With polling in the sixth phase held across 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 seats in Haryana, 8 constituencies each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, 4 in Jharkhand and 7 seats in Delhi, votes have already been cast in nearly 89% of the 543 constituencies, while the last phase of voting will take place on May 19 for the remaining 59 seats.