Himachal polls: Urban voter apathy at play once more, turnout in Shimla lowest in state

New Delhi, November 14

Though Himachal Pradesh registered a record voter turnout of 75.6 per cent during the November 12 Assembly polls, urban voter apathy was once again at play in the hill state, Election Commission data showed.

At 62.53 per cent, the voter turnout in Shimla was not only the lowest in the state but also came down by 1.4 per cent as compared to the 2017 elections, the data showed.

Urban Shimla's important localities, including government colonies, clocked one of the lowest polling percentages in the range of 50, pulling down Shimla Assembly seat's voter turnout to the lowest in the state.

Though 75.6 per cent voter turnout is the state's highest so far, greater participation from the urban areas could have helped achieve a better turnout, EC functionaries lamented.

Also, the average turnout in important urban areas was approximately eight per cent lower than the turnout in rural constituencies.

If the electors in certain sections in Shimla, Solan, Kasumpti and Dharamshala had stepped out this time with equal zeal, the voting percentage record could have been much higher, the functionaries said.

The turnout of women voters was roughly 4.5 per cent higher than that of male voters and approximately two per cent higher than the total voter turnout, the data showed.

While 76.8 per cent women voters exercised their franchise, only 72.4 per cent men voted.

Tashigang, the world's highest polling booth at 15,265 feet, recorded 100 per cent polling, with voters braving adverse weather conditions, the functionaries said.

Chasak Bhatori in Bharmaur Assembly seat in Chamba recorded a turnout of 75.26 per cent despite the polling booth being located 14 kilometres away and at a height of 11,948 feet, they said.

Despite all odds, the average voter turnout in 85 polling stations set up above 10,000 feet was close to the state average, they added.

"Not to forget, brave, dedicated and hardworking polling teams who made this possible. More than 50,000 personnel were mobilised for this spectacular achievement of Himachal Pradesh," an official said.

Himachal Pradesh started its electoral journey with assembly elections in 1951, when a voter turnout of 25.16 per cent was recorded. The voter turnout has shown a steady upward trend in the subsequent elections.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has been working continuously to address the issue of urban and youth apathy.

Kumar has been urging state chief electoral officers to identify low voter turnout seats and polling stations to ensure targeted interventions to raise awareness and break the stranglehold of urban apathy by reaching out to voters.

To focus attention on urban apathy, the EC has advocated establishing voter awareness forums in organisations -- both private and government -- to highlight the significance of voting and motivating urban working citizens to come out and vote.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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