Times of India reported on 26 Jan 2017: “Around 72% of the state’s population will vote next year,” said Chief Electoral Officer, Anil Kumar Jha, “We have added 7.35 lakh new voters to the list and have decided to delete nearly 3.5 lakh. The gender ratio is 968 females per 1000 males.”
The population of Karnataka is reported as 6.5 crores. Electoral rolls of the state have 4,88,78,784 voters – 75.2% of the population. The news report also states, ” … nearly five crore people are eligible to vote in the 2018 assembly elections, ” predicting that 77% of the population could be in the electoral rolls.
As per the census of India, 41.1% of our population is under 18 years of age, making 59.9% of them eligible to register as voters. We know that many eligible citizens are not registered as voters. Even if every eligible person is registered as a voter, of the 6.5 crore population of Karnataka, only 3.89 crore people could be of voting age. Karnataka already has more than 1 crore illegal entries in the rolls.
The estimated population of Bangalore is 1.01 crore. This would make about 60 lakh above 18 years of age. But, Bangalore has 84,91,017 voters in the rolls.
Rampant duplicate entries and the dead living in the lists are the main causes of bloated electoral rolls. Or, is the population of Karnataka 8.16 crores? Or is the census report wrong on population and about age demography?
Electoral rolls of Karnataka as a whole have about 26% bloat and those of Bangalore have about 42% bloat. No wonder the voter turnout% is low in the state. The basis of calculation is faulty. Politicians and election commission authorities have been barking under a wrong tree, complaining of voter apathy. Don’t we know the source of real apathy? Apart from giving demoralising impressions, triggering wrong actions, poor quality of electoral rolls would also increase malpractices in the booths.
Of the 13 states/UTs I have been analysing, Karnataka has the worst Electoral Roll Management practice. I have repeatedly offered my help to improve its quality, to which there has been no response.
Movement of population in cities is much higher than in rural areas. Bangalore is the second fastest growing city in India. The churn should have resulted in much higher registration and deletion of voters due to the movement of population. However, in the period between the recent two versions of electoral rolls, when voter counts in the state as a whole increased by 1.69%, Bangalore has seen only 0.72% increase. When the state has deleted 0.68% of voters (duplicated records and shifted voters), Bangalore has deleted only 0.50%. This also proves the apathy of Electoral Registration Officers in Bangalore.