Low voter turnout a threat to India’s democracy’
Elections are the biggest source of corruption in the country. When a candidate spends Rs. 5 crore to Rs.10 crore for getting elected, the first thing he does is call officials and ask them how they’re going to help him recover his expenditure.
This was stated by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi here on Monday.
Mr. Quraishi was speaking at a special meeting called to ask for the media’s help to boost voter awareness.
The Election Commission had made significant progress in making the electoral process more transparent, but only a vigilant electorate could stamp out corruption, he noted.
Mr. Quraishi said low voter turnout had emerged as a fundamental threat to the country’s democracy. “If 30 per cent of people vote and one of them wins with 12 per cent of that, both the quality of the representation and the legitimacy of governance will suffer.”
To boost voter participation, the Commission had taken slew of measures such as appointment of community-based booth liaison officers, hand-delivery of voter slips prior to the election day and running of awareness campaigns in the media, he said.
These measures had helped bring about a record voter turnout of 84 per cent in Tamil Nadu and ensured a steady improvement in electoral participation across the last seven elections.
“I am particularly pleased we have succeeded in making sure more women than ever are voting. In Bihar, there were more women voters than men. We have also added 3.8 crore in the 18-19 age-group to the electoral rolls through special campaigns, which means about 35 per cent of this age-group are now registered to vote,” he said.
However, Mr. Quraishi pointed out that voters in most cities other than Kolkata and Chennai remained apathetic. “People in urban areas incessantly complain about how corrupt their politicians are, but won’t queue up to vote and choose better ones,” he added.