Times of India | 5 days ago | 06-08-2022 | 10:03 am
GANDHINAGAR/AHMEDABAD: There has been a 16% decrease in the number of first-time voters, the 18-19 years age group, in 2022 compared to 2012. Data from the electoral rolls shows there were 1.34 lakh first-time voters of the 18-19 age group in 2012, which dropped to 1.12 lakh in 2022. Over the past five years – from 2017 to 2022 – the decline in first-time voters has been 9.6%, from 1.24 lakh voters to 1.12 lakh this year. All other age groups registered an increase in the number of voters. In the 18-49 age group, the number of voters rose from 2.82 crore to 3.26 crore in a decade, up 15.5% Significantly, the steepest increase in voters of the past decade is in the 50-plus category. From 98.56 lakh in 2012, the number in this category shot up to 1.57 crore, a 59.6% increase. Sources in the officer of the chief electoral officer (CEO), Gujarat, said there is still some gap in the registration of first time voters in the state. “The EC regularly issues directions for facilitating voting of elderly persons. The number of voters over the age of 50 is increasing. As for the young voters, awareness programmes are being intensified and registration of first-time voters is an ongoing process,” sources in the office of the CEO said. Officials said a year-wise comparison of the increase of voters in the 50-plus category shows that the number of such voters rose by 10.58 lakh between 2012 and 2014, by 14.99 lakh between 2014 and 2017, by 10.73 lakh between 2017 and 2019 and by 22.01 lakh between 2019 and 2022. Interestingly, the greatest rate of growth in the past decade is in the 80-years-plus category. From 4.26 lakh 80-plus voters in 2012, the number in this category shot up to 10.66 lakh in 2022, an increase of 150.6%. In absolute numbers, the highest increase was in the 50-59 years age group, which rose by 18.01 lakh, followed by 17.4 lakh voters increased in the 40-49 years group. A senior official said that they had projected the increase in voters from the census figures. According to their projections, in 2022 the projected number of voters was estimated at 4.79 crore but the voters list has 4.83 crore. Officials said there have been more voters registered compared to the projected population in all but two categories. The 18-19 years group, which has 11.18 lakh voters registered against 26.75 lakh projected and the 20-29 years group, which has 1.02 crore registered voters against 1.33 crore projected. It seems there is a lack of awareness in this age group or youngsters may have left Gujarat for studies or work, an official said. Sociologist Gaurang Jani said life expectancy has increased and as a result the number of voters in the 50-plus category has risen sharply in all states. “Also, gradually, the number of persons in the “young voters” category is gradually falling across the country. This is a phenomenon being witnessed across the country,” Jani said. BJP spokesperson Yamal Vyas said the party is aware of the changing profiles of the voters. “Nationally, the BJP-led Union government has launched a number of schemes for elderly people. There are also schemes for all age groups,” Vyas said. The Congress said the government has been deliberately sluggish in registering new voters. “The drop in voters in the 18-19 age category shows that the BJP is avoiding registering fresh voters as they will vote against the BJP,” Doshi said.