Voter turnout of Maharashtra Assembly election threatened by weather and lackluster campaigning
- Maharashtra’s voter turnout for the Assembly election normally mimics the voter turnout of the Lok Sabha election.
- Data from the 20 years shows that the poll percentage during the Assembly election is normally greater than it is during the Lok Sabha election.
- The same may not hold true this year in the face of lackluster campaigning and uncertain weather conditions.
The Maharashtra Assembly elections polls have just opened and it remains to be seen how many voters will actually show up. In addition to the lackluster build up to the elections, rain across several districts in the state threatens voter turnout.
The day started out slow with Maharashtra reporting a low turnout of 5.76% till 10:00 am. By 12:00pm voter turnout picked up to hit 16.75% with rains slowing down. Polling booths peaked to 43.84% by 4:00 pm.
Data shows from the past five elections shows that the Lok Sabha elections set the tone and tempo for what’s to come. The voter turnout during the Assembly election is normally greater than what is seen during the national election.
In 2019, voter turnout in Maharashtra during the Lok Sabha election hit 64.1%.
But the success might not be repeated with the India Meteorological Department ( IMD) predicting the formation of a low-pressure system over the Arabian Sea. This means that certain districts — like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik — could be in for some turbulent weather.
Not only would that dissuade voters from heading to the poll booths, it would also jam up traffic and result in water logging.
Voter turnout on the up-and-up
In 1999, the voter turnout for the Parliamentary Election and the Assembly Election was nearly at par. Since then, more voters have turned up to vote in state elections than the general election.
In 2004, Maharashtra saw a voter turnout of 54.3% during the Lok Sabha election. During the Assembly election, later the same year, the voter turnout increased to 63.4%.
But, the difference in voter turnout has been decreasing for each subsequent election.
In 2009, the state saw 50.5% people show up to vote during the Lok Sabha election and 59.6% during the Assembly election. In 2014, the difference in voter turnout between the Lok Sabha and Assembly election was less than 3%.
High expectations from Mumbai
Mumbai hit a new record during the 2019 Lok Sabha election, hitting a new record with 55.1% voter turnout — the highest in the post-liberalisation era.
Even then it was uncertain if the city would turn up to vote amid the rising temperatures and a long weekend, where it was expected that many voters would choose to go on holiday.
At the same time, it should be noted that the voter base in Mumbai fell by 2.54 since 2014.
For the Assembly elections, there are 8.9 crore eligible voters in the state and 288 seats up for grabs. If the trend in voter turnout holds up, at least 64% of the voters come to cast their votes if they aren’t haven’t been dissuaded by the weather and the humdrum of the electoral campaigns.