Published: 19th April 2019
Lok Sabha 2019: GenY voters want young MPs with liberal outlook
With 15 million young voters, concerns arise about the stressful process of voting in the largest democracy in the world
With every election season comes a fresh crop of first-time voters, young people who want to be heard and to make a difference. The voting process itself can be arduous, especially with 900 million people eligible to vote, according to the Election Commission of India, of which 15 million are first-time voters.
Some voters, like every year, didn’t receive their voter ID in time, but they were allowed to vote using their Aadhar card as ID proof. “There were people who registered late, and even some who registered before the March deadline, who didn’t receive their voter ID or numbers. I know people who’ve tried to apply for years and still haven’t received their voter ID,” 20-year-old Suhas R Vaidya remarks sadly.
Few found the process stressful and problematic. “There was a huge crowd, and there was a confusion with the polling booths. My entire family had a different polling booth than I did, and I had difficulty with getting my serial number”, says Shravani Alampalli (19), who voted from Bangalore-South constituency. KT Aditya (18) believes this is indicative of poor management, “ There was no coordination between those who were inside, and those sitting at the doors. There needs to be proper management of the personnel”
The voting procedures also brought to light the plight of the differently abled, and how the voting process of the largest democracy does little to cater to them. “The government could improve their voting procedures for those who are blind, deaf or differently abled,” comments Kodhai Swaminathan. “ People who are blind don’t have a braille system or something that can help them vote, and while voting there’s a person beside them who can see the vote, and my privacy is lost,” she adds.
Despite these glitches, the young voters cast their vote for the candidates whom they felt deserved it and would serve the people well. As far as the elections are concerned, we find a greater shift of focus onto the candidate and their qualifications, rather than the party itself. Young voters seemed to value education and ideology over experience. “I voted for the candidate rather than the party because I wanted to be conscientious with my vote. I wanted a candidate with a fresh mindset and a more liberal outlook,” stated 18-year-old Ekta Jain.
We also find voters frustrated with their choice of candidates. “I find that politics has become extremely polarized,” noted 18-year-old Harshita Swaminathan, who chose to vote for an independent candidate.
While these new voters believe that there are multiple things that the new government should focus on, including the Citizenship Bill and unemployment, there is greater emphasis on social equality, education and women’s empowerment, with the Women’s Reservation Bill being a point of contention. Young voters have also noticed something far more disturbing with respect to the political environment in the country. “In the last five years, there has been a rise in communal tensions and jingoistic sentiments,” Suhas R Vaidya observes. “The government should make sure that these communal lines are separate from political lines,” he adds.