A whopping 91% of urban migrants in India are not registered as voters: Study

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  • A new study by home rental company Nestaway has shown that nearly 91% people residing in urban India don’t register as voters when they move to another city.
  • Over 73% of people are unaware how to register after migrating to a new place.
  • More than half of the people think they can not cast a vote if they relocate.
With the general elections around the corner in India, political parties are more aggressively campaigning in rural as well as urban India to fetch votes.

While India’s voter turnout improved in the last election, moving houses in urban areas is a significant barrier in people exercising their right.

A new study titled ‘‘Urban Migrants: The silent spectators of Indian Elections,’ by India’s home rental platform Nestaway, has revealed that nearly 91% of people in urban India are not yet registered to vote in the cities they live, especially after their move to another urban location.

With many people migrating to other cities due to changes in job, marriage and higher education, lack of awareness was also an issue. As much as 73% people are, in fact, unaware how to register to vote in their new cities, said the study.

While the Indian authorities have deployed social media channels and private institutions to educate people on the voting process, 63% of migrants think that they can not cast a vote if they relocate. Despite that, a good 75% want to vote in Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

The study surveyed over 1,100 urban migrants in their 20s, residing in metropolitan cities including Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore.

Speaking about the survey, Amrendra Sahu, co-founder and CEO Nestaway Technologies said, “Many urban migrants have tried to update their addresses in their voter registration. However, if you do not belong to the same state you are residing in, the entire process is very tiresome, especially if they do not speak the local language. The authorities are more proactive now in helping out fresh voters.”

Another report by Mint analysing the electoral and census data in India has shown that more than 50 million voters, including youngsters, may be missing from the electoral rolls of India in general election 2019.

Urban migration trends can also skew men versus women voters, according to SBI research. Over the years, mostly male population have been migrating from one state to another due to several reasons like looking for better quality of life, employment, marriage and education which can impact the overall voter turnout rate, SBI report said, adding that it is estimated the percentage of voter turnout among major states show that states like UP, Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan & J&K have net “out migration” and, consequently, low voter turnout rate.

According to the report, changes in the electoral process might be necessary to correct this, especially with the availability of Aadhaar and voter identification cards. Here, there are lessons India can take from other countries such as the US, said the report.

For example, in the US, if one resides abroad, he or she can still cast their vote through the website FVAP.gov. Forms can be signed and mailed to the local elections office in advance, or the choice of electronic ballot available online or a paper mail-in ballot is also available, in what is called an absentee voting process, the SBI note pointed out.

Talking of women participation, a recent data highlighted that women are likely to vote more than men in this year’s elections, which will surely make a difference. In fact, the gender gap in terms of votes in the last general elections, was lowest since independence.

See also:
Women participation may be higher than men in India's upcoming elections, says report

India should bar political parties with low women representation, demands activist group
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