Will Karnataka’s Youth Vote in the 2023 State Assembly Elections?

The state has successfully registered 9.1 Lakh First Time Voters — the largest increase in the electoral roll ever recorded in Karnataka.

Mar 29, 2023

The Election Commission of India has announced that they are making concentrated efforts to target the urban voter apathy in Karnataka — especially working to help the “New Age Voters” by successfully adding the largest number of first-time voters to the state’s electoral roll and special polling booths for the youth! We say to Karnataka’s 5.2 crore voters, young and old - #GetInked!

By voting, we add our voice to the chorus that forms opinions and the basis for actions. But would it be true to assume that everybody votes 34 years after promulgating the 61st Amendment Act, 1989, which extended the privilege to vote to every citizen in India above the age of 18

On 29th March 2023, the Election Commission of India announced the largest increase of first-time youth voter registrations in Karnataka, as they added 9.1 Lakh first-time voters to the electoral roll. Today, this dynamic episode takes us down the stream of time to 2018 when the average voter turnout in urban Karnataka was 72.4%, which however, in the capital city of Bangalore plunged by 20% to a mere 57%. This was even lower than the turnout in the assembly elections of the state in 2013. So, what was the reason for such a poor urban voter turnout?

Lasting in its efforts, the Election Commission of India (ECI), identified a trail of paradox which revealed that despite being conscious of one’s voting rights, urban apathy was ingrained within the state of Karnataka, especially among the youth, women, and PwD voters. 

So, as the clock struck half past 11, Rajiv Kumar, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, took on air the concern of urban voter apathy in the state of Karnataka.  

“Youth participation in the electoral process brings in the required energy and rhythm, yielding to a more vibrant, argumentative and participative process," said Rajiv Kumar.

Deriding the reclusion of one’s responsibility, he highlighted the Election Commission of India’s deliberation on “New Age Voters”, noting that citizens between the age of 18-35 are critical to the state. 

With concentrated efforts, ECI has been able to register upwards of 9.17 lakh first-time voters, with still room for registrations for the 41,000 individuals turning 18 by the 1st of April this year as per the new provision of the ECI towards quarterly voter registrations in a calendar year.

The state will vote on the 10th of May and results will be announced three days later, on the 13th of May, 2023.

Out of the 58,282 polling booths in the state, 20,866 fall in the urban part of Karnataka. When the state goes to vote on the 10th of May, 1320 of these booths will exclusively be managed by women, and 224 booths will be led by the youngest employees of the state government to prompt young voters to participate in this “festival of democracy”.

The ECI also engaged with voluntary groups and educational institutions, with a special focus on digital technology to connect with young people given the state’s leaps in entrepreneurship and technological spheres. They did so through an “Electhon” to address critical issues in the electoral process, specifically the registration of new voters in the electoral roll and enhancing the participation of urban and youth voters in elections.

So while India in the last seven decades has prevailed as the largest democracy, for it to be a more effective one, a mark on the index finger of India’s youth will prove to be critical.